How does poison work in FATE?

Secret, previously administered poison (say, in a drinking glass) is an aspect that, like most investigation aspects, doesn't expire 'next turn' but will sit and wait. Extremely fast poison can just be thought of as damage on the weapon, it does damage when it hits. (Say, acid weapons or most of the fae nasties that Harry runs into.)

What if someone gets hit with a poisoned weapon that would last for at least a few rounds, preferably how to do it over a few minutes/hours?


2 Answers 2


The answer is going to depend on what role the poison is serving.

Wraith808's answer using the Venomous feature and tazers will work if it's a feature of the opponents and not expected to last a long time.

If it's part of a conflict with a poisoner, you can give the loser the aspect "Unknowingly poisoned with x venom" as a concession or loss. As an aside, FATE doesn't do well with secret information. Players are expected to know what's happening, even if their characters don't.

If it's a big plot point, you could model the poison as a character with aspects, a plot stress track and skills similar to It's On Fire. How they get poisoned in the first place should be the result of losing a conflict somehow, or a consequence taken during a conflict.

An example poison could be:

Diluted Wyvern Urine

  • Aspects: Rare Poison, Ingested, Responds to Emetics
  • Stress: 7 points
  • Skills

    It Burns! (Great +4): Once a day, the poison can use this skill to attack the poisoned characters physical stress track. It can also use this after an attempt to cure it.

    In Your Veins (Fair +2): Once during each conflict, the poison uses this skill in a manuever to attempt to add the Distracted temporary Aspect.

    Hard to Purge (Good +3): Blocks attempts to cure or resist the poison.

    Once every 24 hours, Diluted Wyvern Urine starts a conflict with the poisoned character and uses It Burns! It will then offer a concession with no consequences to the poisoned player.

Given the complexity of this solution, you will want to use this in situations where the poison is supposed to hang around a long time and it can cause other complications.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Mind=Blown. I've been playing FATE for a year now, and had never heard of the fractal. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 16, 2012 at 22:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Beautiful use of the FATE fractal \$\endgroup\$
    – edgerunner
    Oct 17, 2012 at 2:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd not heard of FATE fractals before this- great answer and thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Oct 17, 2012 at 4:28
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ So brilliant I wish I could mod it up twice. I'd have never thought to model a poison like a character, especially after my DnD experience. Heck, if I ever en up playing DnD again, this can be used too. \$\endgroup\$
    – Maurycy
    Oct 17, 2012 at 6:53

On YW163, there is the creature feature Venomous that states:

Your claws are venomous. Make a Fists maneuver; if successful, the target gains a Poisoned aspect.

In each subsequent exchange, the target must roll Endurance to defend against an attack from the poison equal to your Fists score. Once the target concedes or is taken out (falling unconscious), the attacks stop (see page 203 for guidelines on being taken out). However, the damage is already done; without proper medical attention, a taken out victim will die soon (within a few hours, perhaps less), though not immediately.

Proper medical attention will remove the aspect and end the effect. This is an opposed roll—you can roll Fists (since that was the skill for the original attack) to set the difficulty to mitigate the poison.

In addition, on YW326, the following text applies:

Some weapons (like tazers or some poisons) are not necessarily intended to do direct damage as much as incapacitate the target. These weapons should still get ratings based on the guidelines given in Playing the Game (page 202), but instead of applying the Weapon rating as stress on an attack, the attacker might instead opt to impose a temporary aspect on the target (as though he’d performed a maneuver) in addition to the stress from the attack roll. Weapons used to bind or capture, like nets, can have their ratings sacrificed to enter the target in a grapple (page 211) in addition to the inflicted stress.

In either case, rolls to overcome these secondary effects are made against the weapon’s rating; use the rating as the basis for rolling the opposition—i.e., Weapon:2 = Fair (+2).

So, taking the two together, I'd make a regular weapon attack, and apply the Poisoned aspect if a consequence is taken. Then use the guidelines from Venomous to take over from that point, using the rating for the poison.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Huh. Kind of feeling silly about myself here. Somehow missed Venomous. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Oct 16, 2012 at 21:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .