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I was reading through the "Poisons" section of the DMG chapter 8, and had the following questions:

  • If for instance a character is hit by a creature repeated times with the same poison (for example a foe firing crossbow bolts with Carrion Crawler Mucus applied on them), does the target have to do the Con save on every hit?
  • As I read it, if you succeed the first check, you are immune for the upcoming hits with that poison? Or the character has to do the Con save on every hit?
  • And what about when the effect, paralyzed in this Carrion Crawler Mucus example, is successfully passed with a check after being paralyzed a couple of rounds? Would the character have to handle the poison newly if it gets hit by a new bolt later in combat?

The questions are exclusively about the "Poisons" section in the DMG, and not on monsters effects.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Apologies if I didn't make it clear, I was meaning the Poisons in the DMG, applied on a weapon (for instance crossbow bolts, arrows), and not monsters and their effects. \$\endgroup\$ – titus.andronicus Aug 23 '18 at 14:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for providing the distinction, I was poking through monsters and their poison effects; the other answers handled this well enough (and sorry about declining the dinner invitation). \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Aug 23 '18 at 17:41
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In general there is no rule that says you become immune to a poison after one exposure.

So you would need to make a saving throw each time you are potentially poisoned, unless a specific poison or monster ability description says otherwise.

For your example of Carrion Crawler Mucus, the description is to be applied 'as a whole'. That is, the paragraph says:

A creature subjected to this poison must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 minute. The poisoned creature is paralysed. The creature can repeat the saving throws at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

When it says 'ending the effect' it is referring to that instance of poisoning. There is nothing that says the character cannot be affected again and so would have to make a new saving throw if subjected to the poison again.

This, I believe, answers your second and third bullet points.

In reference to your first bullet point:

If hit again while already poisoned you would still need to make another Con saving throw. The effects do not 'stack' (you cannot be more poisoned), but if you failed it would start the poisoned duration again by another minute.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It may help to answer the specific bullet points for OP. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Aug 23 '18 at 14:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you add a rules reference that being poisoned again increases the duration? Because I think the durations would overlap, not extend. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Aug 23 '18 at 15:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik: I actually meant extend the duration again from that point. I've changed my wording slightly to hopefully make this more obvious. I'll add references when I can (but at work :) \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Aug 23 '18 at 15:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Erik I don't know if it's stated for nonmagical effects, but there is this for combining magical effects: "The effects of the same spell cast multiple times don't combine, however. Instead, the most potent effect--such as the highest bonus--from those castings applies while their durations overlap." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 23 '18 at 19:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Apparently it's mentioned in the DMG, added in errata, under "Combining Game Effects" at the end of the "Combat" section. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Aug 23 '18 at 19:31
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Each poisoning event is a separate thing, so if you get poisoned repeatedly, you have to save against all of them independently, and each of them affects you independently.

  • Yes, if you get hit with poisoned weapons repeatedly, you have to save each time it happens.
  • No, there's no rule that makes you immune to further poisoning just because you have been poisoned or have saved against being poisoned.
  • If you succeed on your Con save at the end of each turn to stop being paralyzed by carrion crawler mucus, it ends that specific instance of poisoning, but doesn't remove any other instances.

If you have been hit by multiple instances of the same poison, according to the "Combining Game Effects" note in the DMG Errata (and in future DMG printings at the end of the Combat section), only one instance of the poison actually affects you. Normally this doesn't matter because you can't become 'double-paralyzed' or something. The only time it really changes anything would probably be with the ongoing damage from Burnt Othur Fumes. If you got multiple Othur exposures, I think in that case you'd still save against each instance of the exposure at the start of each turn, but only the first save each turn would determine whether you take the poison damage or not.

So to give an example:

Suppose Geralt the Ranger is being pelted with poisoned arrows. We'll assume they use Crawler Mucus just to make this easier.

On turn 1, Geralt is hit by an arrow and fails his save. He becomes paralyzed. At the end of Geralt's turn, he rolls another save, and fails again. He's still paralyzed.

On turn 2, Geralt takes two more hits, and rolls two saves against those new poison instances. He succeeds on one and fails the other. He now has two instances of poison affecting him. At the end of his turn, Geralt rolls two Con saves. He succeeds one, but fails the other. He remains paralyzed, with only one poison instance still in play against him.

On turn 3, all the attacks miss, and Geralt makes one save at the end of his turn. He succeeds, and is finally un-paralyzed.

On turn 4, Geralt takes another two hits, fails his save against one, and becomes paralyzed again. Geralt's player yells at the DM and stomps out of the room in frustration.

In general, this makes sense for being 'more badly poisoned' by multiple exposures (i.e., it's reasonable that somebody who gets hit by seventeen poisoned darts is suffering more than somebody who only got hit by one). However, this is enough of an edge case and has enough complication from the aforementioned errata that your DM might decide that while you're under a poison's effect, you can't be affected a second time by the same poison, and there is a reasonable argument for that method of handling this.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How does the overlapping effects mechanic work with your answer? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Aug 23 '18 at 15:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nautarch What do you mean? Are you talking about how spells work when you have multiple same-name effects? \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Aug 23 '18 at 15:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not 100% it applies, but it feels like combining game effects includes poison? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Aug 23 '18 at 15:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ OK, so yes, that does apply to poison, but it doesn't change anything about my answer. You still have to save against each poisoning instance (that's basically 'duration', which all continue to run independently); but only one of the crawler poisons is actually paralyzing you at any given time. It doesn't matter in that example, because you can't be 'double-paralyzed', but it could come up with poisons that do ongoing damage, so I'll add a note about that to my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Aug 23 '18 at 16:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ To expand on my comment a little, that would be similar to the scenario where you've been dominated by two wizards at the same time. Only one of them gets to command you during any given turn, but if you save against one of them, the other one still has a Dominate in place that lets them continue to control you. Being dominated doesn't make you immune to future Dominate Person spells, it just means those additional spells kind of wait in the background until they're relevant. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Aug 23 '18 at 16:20
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There aren't a lot of rules that can be applied to Poisons as a whole, beyond the observation that most if not all of them apply the Poisoned condition, which the Player's Handbook says does the following, in addition to whatever other effects the Poison specifically says it applies:

A poisoned creature has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks.

Here are a few general rules that can be applied:

  • Unless the poison says otherwise, being hit by a poison after already being afflicted with it doesn't render you immune to the second hit. You'd still roll the Saving Throw as normal.
  • If you're afflicted with the same type of poison twice, the second application only refreshes the duration of the poison, unless the poison specifically says otherwise. You aren't affected by multiple "charges" of the same poison at the same time, and the duration never lasts longer than the duration of the longest individual effect.
  • The DC of the save doesn't change, unless the poison specifically says otherwise.
  • Poisons of different types are permitted to stack with each other, but not the same type of poison from two different sources

So to answer your questions specifically:

  • Yes, the target would need to make the save every time they get hit.
  • No. Success on a save does not make you immune to other applications of the poison.
  • Yes, they would have to deal with the poison again if they get afflicted, save to end the effect, and then get hit + fail the save again.
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