There is lots of stuff out there about poisons in general, but what is the most money efficient poison? Purple worm poison is powerful, but it cost 5k GP per dose iirc. I am looking for a poison that does the most damage per GP spent on it.


1 Answer 1


Serpent Venom

If you just go by the list of poisons on page 257 of the DMG, considering the price, DC for the saving throw and expected damage, serpent venom, at a cost of about 25 gp per point of damage gives you the best return on your investment.

Purple Worm poison would be twice as expensive, clocking in at about 50 gp per expected point of damage. The most expensive poisons for their initial damage would be burnt othur fumes and pale tincture, they make up for it with ongoing effects over time. The most expensive poisons per damage that just deal damage are wyvern poison, at about 58 gp per expected point of damage, and basic poison from the equipment list on page 150 PHB, which at list price costs 89 gp per expected point°.

Note that in many civilized societies, the acquisition of poison may be regulated or even illegal. The DMG says on page 258

In some settings, laws prohibit the possession and use of poison, but a black-market dealer or unscrupulous apothecary might keep a hidden stash.

There are also many poisons that have different effects than just pure damage. Consider for example drow poison, which often can be captured from defeated drow, and has the ability to make a creature fall asleep on a save that failed by 5 or more. Depending on the situation, this can be more effective in combat than just a few points of damage.

There are also a lot of poisons from creatures in the monster manual that are not listed on the list of poisons in the DMG. While there are no official rules for the prices of these poisons, some of them are from relatively common creatures such as poison snakes, spiders, scorpions, and giant centipedes. Depending on what your DM agrees to, a character with proficiency in Intelligence (Nature) and Poisoner's kit might be able to obtain such poisons during their adventuring. See the rules on page 258 DMG under "Crafting and Harvesting Poison".

Lastly, there are also many exotic poisons in the game, for example from pixies, nagas, yuan-ti, demons, devils. Depending of the world your DM is running, some of them also may be available.

° Damage calcluations assume the victim is a Commoner, with Con 10 and no saving throw proficiency. Poison is the most resisted damage type, and against many mosters with saving throw proficiency, resistance or high constitution, the expected damage will be lower -- but this will apply equally for all poisons.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you very much. This will make my character interesting... \$\endgroup\$
    – NemoAmet
    Mar 17, 2022 at 21:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NemoAmet: welcome to the site! It's general practice to not accept an answer for about a day after it's submitted - having an accepted answer can reduce the number of people who read the question and discourage people from providing other answers that might be better (not least because they might not see that the accepted answer is missing something) (to be clear: Groody's answer looks great, but its being accepted might mean that someone is less inclined to delve into other books). Limiting viewers can also limit reputation gains, which gate a few actions. \$\endgroup\$
    – minnmass
    Mar 17, 2022 at 21:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you source some of your statements about other poisons? I'm pretty drow poison isn't widely available. See this Q&A. There appears to be a module where vials can be found, but not sure about in regular sourcebook options that can be done. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Mar 17, 2022 at 21:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @minnmass I think most of the site has soured on the 24-hour accept thing, honestly. It rarely gets recommended anymore, and I’ve seen several comments from people who used to recommend it saying they no longer do. Anyway, at this point I don’t think it can be described as “general practice,” and indeed here it’s hard to see what anyone will add to this answer. And if someone surprises us, it’s trivial to switch the accepted checkmark. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Mar 18, 2022 at 14:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm still lost on how you can capture poison from defeated drow when poison is not listed on their stat blocks. Their weapons are coated, yes. But they don't 'carry' poison in vials as far as I can see in the rules. And probably worth mentioning all of those poison rules are optional and a DM may not be using them in the game at all. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Mar 18, 2022 at 15:02

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