I've been DMing a Second Edition AD&D game. The fighter of the party got really upset because an NPC thief knocked him unconscious and took a potion of giant's blood off of him. He thought that the thief of the party, one of my other players stole it from him. The fighter then chose to kill the party's thief. And after that he killed the party's mage who tried to stop him. However the thief had a variety of poisons in similar canisters to the one the potion of giant's blood was held in. The fighter then decided to find out which one was the potion by tasting them; yes, he willingly drank poison. I asked him if he really wanted to take the chance? His exact words were "I take a single gulp". So he did swallow whatever was in the canister. I made the player roll a D6 in order to decide which canister he drank. He rolled the option that I chose to be the green dragon acid, I ended the session here so I could find out what occurs.

This character is dead right? Should there be a system shock check, or is the internal damage just simply too extreme?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Reminder: comments are for clarifying content, not posting small or incomplete answers. Please use answer posts to submit answers instead. Prior comments containing answers have been purged. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 5 '15 at 16:22

Tasting isn't quaffing.

Chances are he didn't gargle the potion to get a feel for what was in it, he got a bit on the tip of his finger and then rubbed it on his tongue. He would be able to tell from just a bit of a taste that no this is not a potion ow why is my tongue burning.

If he explicitly states that he sucks the potions down like a vacuum cleaner then yes, he would probably die. The flesh eating acid would likely eat through the lining of his stomach, and then melt a hole through his buttocks. He'd die in a very very painful fashion. It sounds like he deserves no less, just based on his actions it'd be a great way for him to die.

You said he did take a quaff so that pretty much sealed his fate. Poisons, acids, and potions aren't to be fooled around with, and his inexperience will teach him a gruesomely painful lesson. The lining of his esophagus will melt away, his teeth will rot, some will drip down into his lungs and begin burning through his alveoli, will drop down into his stomach, burn through its lining, where it will singe a hole through his intestines, pouring his stomach acid into his bloodstream until it passes through his buttock and falls onto the ground. Any bones the acid come in contact with will be eaten away, and this entire time he will have no shortage of pain to deal with as he breathes his last.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that some poisons might be potent enough to kill even from just a taste. I don't know if the poor thief was carrying any such poisons, but it's probably worth keeping track of. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Oct 5 '15 at 0:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ The PC took "a gulp" so he swallowed the potion, so it's something in between tasting it with the tongue and "vacuuming" the bottle. \$\endgroup\$ – algiogia Oct 5 '15 at 10:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd say he's pretty boned then, @Algiogia \$\endgroup\$ – Sandwich Oct 5 '15 at 11:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ Did you consider the magical mitigation of quaffing a healing potion shortly thereafter? A cleric casting cure wounds or cure serious wounds? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 5 '15 at 12:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ It makes it easier for the person the answer is for to describe what happens to the player character. \$\endgroup\$ – Sandwich Oct 6 '15 at 1:41

If he explicitly swallows "a gulp" of draconic acid (presumably analogous to Black Dragon breath) then yes, he's very very dead. That falls into the "inescapable death" situations described in the core books (trapped in a pit with the roof descending to crush you, drowning in an acid pool etc.).

Human stomach acid has got nothing on the kind of magical-creature acids that can melt a person into sludge in a matter of seconds. We might have some internal Hydrochloric acid, but it's not particularly concentrated - barely enough to give you superficial skin irritation, as anyone who's ever thrown up can testify. Your stomach lining wouldn't even slow this stuff down, never mind what it might do to your mouth and throat.

This is basically the equivalent of taking a swig of molten rock from a lethality point of view - and to be honest, any PC that kills two other party members over a minor disagreement (even a violent person would probably only wound them or beat them unconscious, it likely would take a complete psychopath or an accident to actually outright kill) doesn't deserve any leeway from you with regards to saving himself from his own stupidity.

If you're feeling particularly generous as DM, you might give him a System Shock roll or a Breath Weapon save to spit out the potion rather than swallow it when it melts his tongue. Even if he manages that, I'd say he's looking at permanent damage to his ability to speak, feed himself, or make a good first impression after the loss of his tongue and lower jaw.


It's actually very difficult to drink real acid, unlike poison or household detergents. At 8:52 this person accidentally drinks the glass with sulfuric acid and immediately spits it out. He ends up with 2nd degree burns in his mouth, but is alive.

"I take a single gulp." does not mean that he swallows it while his mouth is already burning, especially not as he is wary.


There is no way a character would be able to succeed in voluntarily doing this. If they really insisted then they would get to the point where they would burn their mouth with the first drops to go in, I'd suggest a save vs Poison save for 1hp for a save, and 1d6hp if not, much as a splash from an alchemical acid might.

If it was not voluntary, someone was holding them down and it was poured in, well I reckon they may take the full damage from the breath weapon, without save. It's internal after all. Maybe a System Shock as well just to not die on the spot.


I'd give them a save against poison. If they succeed then they spat/gaged the liquid out before it did any harm; otherwise death. Maybe use the wis bonus.


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