A green dragon has a breath weapon that deals poison damage. In addition to the MM entry, this is an example given in the PHB Description of Damage types:

Poison. Venomous stings and the toxic gas of a green dragon's breath deal poison damage.

Dwarves have two types of protection from poison:

Dwarven Resilience. You have advantage on saving throws against poison, and you have resistance against poison damage (explained in chapter 9).

[The "explained in chapter 9" appears to apply to the definition of poison damage as quoted above.]

The question is: is the green dragon's breath "poison", so that dwarves get advantage on the Con saving throw to take half damage, or is it some other kind of effect that happens to deal poison damage, so that dwarves don't get advantage on the Con save, but still get resistance to any poison damage they end up taking from it?

I believe the same question applies to a spell like poison spray -- is that a spell effect that happens to deal poison damage, or is it poison (or both)?

As an aside, the spell protection from poison states (in part):

target has advantage on saving throws against being poisoned

This is different from the dwarven resilience - it is advantage against being poisoned versus advantage against poison. That type of protection would not apply to the dragon's breath, which deals poison damage but does not impose the poisoned condition.

There's a reddit thread that suggests that the poison spray spell should count as poison for the purposes of this ability, but it's not especially well argued or authoritative.

up vote 19 down vote accepted

The Green Dragon's breath is described as:

Poison Breath (Recharge 5-6). The dragon exhales poisonous gas in a 90-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 22 Constitution saving throw, taking 77 (22d6) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

It is "poisonous gas" the Dwarf gets advantage on the save.

Poison. Venomous stings and the toxic gas of a green dragon’s breath deal poison damage.

It is "poison damage" the Dwarf takes half damage (effectively 1/4 if saved 1/2 if not).

With respect to your comments on protection from poison, I think you are splitting hairs: it is poison so advantage is given on the save; the fact that the effect is to do poison damage rather than impose the poisoned condition is irrelevant to the save.

That said, the DM is the sole authority on rulings so, check with your DM.

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    You are correct regarding protection from poison. If the intended effect was just the poisoned condition, it would contain the world condition. +1 – Mindwin Aug 4 '17 at 22:01
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    Do you have any evidence that the advantage on saves applies to any effect that deals poison damage as well? – David Coffron May 28 at 16:52

The books do not appear to specify exactly what effects count as 'poison' for the purposes of Dwarven Resilience.

However, the Monk has a similar feature:

Purity of Body

At 10th level, your mastery of the ki flowing through you makes you immune to disease and poison.

And Crawford has stated in a Sage Advice column that this makes the Monk immune to both the poisoned condition and poison damage:

Does a monk’s Purity of Body feature grant immunity to poison damage, the poisoned condition, or both? That feature grants immunity to both. As a result, a monk with Purity of Body can, for example, inhale a green dragon’s poison breath unharmed.

So if immunity to 'poison' makes the Monk immune to the poisoned condition and poison damage, advantage on saving throws against 'poison' should give Dwarves advantage on saving throws against any effect that deals poison damage or inflicts the poisoned condition.

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    How do you you mean "The books do not appear to specify exactly what effects count as 'poison'."?! Why would labelling something in bold letters "poison" ever be insufficient to indicate what is poison and isn't poison? (Frankly I'm baffled by this question existing at all, given that, but this answer sorta-agreeing it's confusing is even more baffling.) – SevenSidedDie Jun 16 '15 at 15:46
  • @SevenSidedDie Edited to make it clearer that I'm talking purely about Dwarven Resilience. More importantly, though, I assumed the premise of the question was valid and answered it on its own terms. Assuming the premise of the question was invalid would have made it impossible to answer beyond "well duh, it's just obvious". – Miniman Jun 17 '15 at 0:11

I too have encountered some confusion around this topic... I can see both sides of it, but I am offering an example for consideration:

What about the Ghast Stench and Dwarven Resilience?

Stench. Any creature that starts its turn within 5 feet of the ghast must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned until the start of its next turn. On a successful saving throw, the creature is immune to the ghast's Stench for 24 hours.

The dwarf isn't taking any poison damage. The poisoned condition isn't a result of poison. It is because of a nauseating stench. Since there is no nauseated condition, it seems reasonable to me that the effect would be the same as poisoned.

I think saying that just because it is a Constitution save it counts as poison is a bit of a stretch. There are other things besides poison that trigger a con save (like disease).

In the case of the Dragon's breath you are making a save or take poison damage. That, to me, makes it clear that the constitution save is against poison.

However, in the case of Stench, it seems like you are making a con save to not get the poisoned condition. Which isn't poison damage. You are saving to not throw up or be sick to your stomach.

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    I guess the questions remain -- can something impose the "poisoned" condition without being poison? Can something do "poison damage" without being poison? – PurpleVermont Jul 19 '15 at 18:47

The advantage is for poision. Unless the attack says or implies that the target is being afflicted by a poison it does not apply. In the case of the green Dragon, a CON save is a good indication that it is a poison, but if it's a DEX save then the advantage would not apply.

  • Why? After all, if they are resistant to poison, it might also mean that even if they dodge not so well, a slight mistake (i.e. a little bit of poison hits them) might not affect them as much. – o0'. Jun 16 '15 at 9:56
  • The CON save normally indicates you are saving against poison, and the DEX save normally indicates you are avoiding the damage, which may or may not be poison based. Dwarves don't get a benefit to dodge the gas, just to be affected by it less. – GMNoob Jun 16 '15 at 10:24

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