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

Would this condition ever be applied to a creature that's stung by giant scorpion's tail-sting attack, or bitten by a poisonous snake (both found in the Monster Manual), or shot with a poisoned arrow? I can see several instances where poison damage is applied to a creature, but very few where the poisoned condition is applied (so far just the magical poison dagger).

Even poison you can purchase only inflicts poison damage and makes no mention of applying the poisoned condition. There seem to be a great many anti-poison measures but little to no poisoning methods.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Related Is a green dragon's breath weapon "poison" for the purposes of "advantage on saves against poison" \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 3:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ In part it's because of the word poison being considered interchangeable with venom. If it's a venom, then it's produced by the creature in a gland and used as an attack or defense mechanism. Venoms are delivered through an attacking apparatus, such as a scorpions sting, a snakes bite, or a bees stinger. Poisons are contracted through non-direct means, and are debilitating or lethal. A dart frog is poisonous. Nightshade is poisonous. So if a creature delivers it, it really should be labelled as a venom, and thus damaging. If it's not an attack mechanism, it would be a poison, mainly plants. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 17:47

1 Answer 1


No, if these attacks were meant to inflict the poisoned condition they would specify. For example, the Sprite has an attack that does this:

Shortbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 40/160 ft., one target. Hit: 1 piercing damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or become poisoned for 1 minute. If its saving throw result is 5 or lower, the poisoned target falls unconscious for the same duration, or until it takes damage or another creature takes an action to shake it awake.

The Giant Scorpion and the Poisonous Snake don't say anything about the poisoned condition, so they don't inflict it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You could also cite the Wizard Cantrip Poison Spray, which deals Poison damage and grants the Poisoned condition. \$\endgroup\$
    – Javelin
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 4:29
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Poison Spray doesn't inflict the Poisoned condition, only poison damage, according to the PHB. You may have been thinking of the first-level spell Ray of Sickness, which only inflicts the condition for a single turn. \$\endgroup\$
    – Temp
    Commented Jul 3, 2015 at 16:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that the poisoned condition is one of the stronger conditions to inflict on a creature, so having every instance of poison damage trigger it would be very unbalanced. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 10:59

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