In editions past, Drow are pretty well known for using poison. It's just "who they are". While playing some 5e and creating a side mission I thought, "I will add some Drow since they use (traditionally) sleep poison to make for an interesting fight."

Now onto the real question. Why don't Drow in 5e, from the lowest pleb to the highest priestess, use poison. On page 126 of the Monster Manual they go into detail about the Drow and their abilities, but no poison? Why is this? Was there any reason for this, or was it just an oversight?


3 Answers 3


P.258 of the DMG describes Drow Poison as one of their poison examples. So "why don't Drow in 5e, from the lowest pleb to the highest priestess, use poison?"

They do, as mentioned in the Monster Manual on p.127, and in Out of the Abyss:

(possible PC spoilers)

The drow in Out of the Abyss carry this poison pretty reliably. To the extent that one can just stumble across discarded items with viable poison still on them, and most drow detailed either carry flasks of the stuff or have it in their chambers.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I read the part stating that they do indeed use poisons, but nothing really states what their poison is or does. I supposed it could just be made up by the DM but it's rather silly that they just omitted it from the Ability Box. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 8, 2015 at 2:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ They omit everything about poisons on 5e, reducing it to "If you are poisoned you get disadvantage on Attack and Ability checks". Actually this is one of my nitpicks with 5e, but that is not the subject of this question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Punkgeon
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 11:46
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Punkgeon check DMG at pp.257-258. There are plenty of other effects poisons can and do cause. You're describing the "poisoned" condition, not poisons generally. \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 12:29

Its in the monster manual

Page 126 : "Elves - Drow"

In particular, read the paragraph "Poison Predilection"

Basic drow have poison on their crossbow bolts, higher challenge rating drow also have poison damage with their sword attacks.

They use poison all around, and this poison is capable of inducing paralysis rather than sleep.


They all use poison. Just read their stat blocks. Basic Drow and Elite Drow have a Hand Crossbow that does extra poison damage; if the target fails a save they are poisoned, and if they failed by 5 fall asleep as well. The elite, mage and priestess also deal extra poison damage on their melee attacks from their poisoned weapons.

Page 127

Poison Predilection. Distilled from spider venom and the flora of the Underdark, poison can be found in abundance among the drow, and it plays an important part in their culture and politics. Drow mages concoct a viscid toxin that leaves enemies unconscious. Drow warriors coat their blades and crossbow bolts with this venom, looking forward to the interrogation and torture that follows combat.

Then Pages 128 and 129 show the drow attacks which already have poisoned applied to them.


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