Thursday, January 13, 2011

From Under A Rock - Saving it for Later

I always try to respond to my reader's comments and Alfrik made a great one in this post regarding poison use. Basically his point, and it was a good one, was that a player should be able to save the poison for later use if they manage to defeat a giant scorpion or other some such monstrosity. The trouble is that he is absolutely right in saying that many DMs dissuade or outright deny the use of poison in their games. I will go further and state that many DMs also disallow staves, wands and other cool magical items that they arm their NPC villains with to fall into the hands of the PCs. This is usually but not always done through a use of cleverly designed pitfalls and unfortunate events that leave the pcs unable to take advantage of what they have gained.

I am adding this advice for the DM's even though this is a player advice topic. DM's do not let yourselves fall into this category. It really ticks off players and it makes you seem petty and mean.

Players, do you want your DM to allow you to use the scorpion's poison but are afraid  that she will say no? Do you feel that you should be able to use the life draining ability from Quickfinger's Dagger that you got off him fair and square but you're pretty sure that the DM will penalize you? What can you do as a player to get what you want?

For starters you may want to consider why the DM does not want you to use these things. It could be a very good reason such as you are in Ravenloft and if you use that dagger chances are that you will become a Darklord yourself and while fun for you and the DM the rest of the players might get bored of playing in 'your' game. It could be that the item was too powerful - hopefully the DM will admit that they allowed that item in the game but did not want you to have it.

Secondly, most DM's have egos. Yep that's right. We do. We love it when our players get a kick out of something we create and we love it when a player WANTS to interject themselves into the story. So come up with a good reason for wanting to be able to use the item for later. Something like "When I touched the dagger I felt the power rush through my veins and at once I knew that the death of my sister could be avenged but I struggle with the power inside the dagger because I am of a good alignment. Will I be able to keep my code or will the dagger's bloodlust take control?" I know I would let you use it!

Thirdly, devise a concept for using the item. You want to keep the scorpion's poison and use it as part of your repertoire? Tell your DM what circumstances would lead you to use the poison and why your character would want it. Some DMs might even go for "well if we run into a dragon..."

Finally, it never hurts to bribe the DM. In the past some of my players have gotten away with something that other DMs would probably cringe at but they've written up good stories and painted up figures or helped me design some NPCs.

Remember, work with your DM and you will achieve greater success. Who knows, he might even allow you to use that scorpion's poison after all even though the 'rules say it is evil'.


  1. Well, as far as for poison use. I could see any character who professes either in their write up/history or class description uses honor, or their religion expressly forbids it. Then they would never be allowed to "knowingly" use poison. That would mean, Cavaliers, Paladins, and priests of specific dieties (Not just a blanket covering every Lawful Good Religion), were forbidden and if they found out they did use poison, in character, you would expect them to perform penance.

  2. @Ladyskunk - I can see your point and largely agree with them. Though 'knowingly using' poison and 'carrying around on me' are totally different.