Poison… Present in all Elder Scrolls games starting from Daggerfall, this deadly alchemical tool has served heroes and villains alike. Poisons are also a known way of dealing with pest infestations (Events of Skyrim, Sudi's Journal). The applications of poisons, documented in the canon lore of Elder Scrolls, indicate that for the most part they were ingested by the victim (The Game at Dinner, events in Forelhost). But there are also sources like The Shivering Apothecary that describe the use of poisons in combat and acknowledge their usefulness.  Unfortunately, programming limitations have an impact on the use of poisons, resulting in a completely immersion-breaking dialogue surfing experience each time the player decides to poison his weapon (or weapons) and the only way to somehow remedy that is to assign a hotkey to the poison. But besides that there are very important roleplaying questions left unanswered – how does the player actually manage to use poisons in the heat of battle?  How does the poison stay on the blade for a long time? With this article I will try to answer most of these questions.

How does the poison stay on the blade for a long time?

The real life poison applications teach us that the more sap-like the poison is the longer it stays on the surface. Therefore we can assume that the poisons crafted in TES are sap-like, but also quite potent, such that even a small dose of poison on the blade will result in a very potent effect.

How does the player poison his blade in the heat of the battle?

The answer to this question depends on the weapon type. If using large bladed melee weapons you have two options:

  1. Do not poison your blade in combat, prepare it before hostile encounters. Poison stays on the weapon for a very long time due to its physical properties. This way doesn’t require much knowledge of combat techniques, because the whole surface of the weapon is covered in poison and it doesn’t matter with which side or angle you strike.
  2. While in combat empty the poison bottle on the weapon. Due to the mixture’s viscosity it’ll stay in one part of the blade and you’ll have to strike exactly with that part for the poison to have an effect.

For arrows (and other weapons with small thin blades) the use of poison in combat is easier – the player dips the arrow/weapon in the bottle and circles it inside to collect as much as he can. Each bottle holds enough poison to completely cover one arrow tip – necessary for achieving the strongest possible effect. Using more poison than that will result in no additional damage. The Concentrated Poison perk allows the player to use twice less poison to achieve the same effect effectively resulting in two uses instead of one for each vial.

The plants and creatures in TES are also far more virulent than the ones in the real life. According to Special Flora of Tamriel, Dragon’s Tongue in Black Marsh can even kill the person on touch. We can see from there that the amateur Alchemy (Wortcraft) practice, documented in Fundamentals of Alchemy, is very dangerous and alchemists need to exercise extreme caution when dealing with poisonous herbs. However some rules should be utilized by all alchemists:

  • Always keep a dagger to cut the plants and collect them – to avoid accidental cuts that can happen despite protective gear.
  • Always wear gloves when collecting ingredients (the kind that covers the fingers and preferably, covering some part of the arm), crafting poisons and administering them – to avoid any physical contact with the ingredients.

As always, feel free to post your thoughts and rules in the comments.

Tags: Poisons, RP:Guide, Roleplay, Vazgen

Views: 5777

Replies to This Discussion

Looks like you took at least some of my advice :)

LOL, yeah pretty much  

I love these rp threads, keep up the good work vaz

Thanks Soneca! 

Love love love your alchemy stuff man! It's always a good read, fun, informative etc. Don't give it up mate!

Big alchemy lover myself, too. You really must do more!  

Thanks Nelaf, don't worry I don't plan on giving it up 

I think you should be fine, the ingredients release their magical properties only when grinded, at least according to Fundamentals of Alchemy. Quote:

"Many items in our world, mostly organic in nature, can be broken down into more fundamental essences with magickal properties"

In this case separating them with paper should not help as well. The leaf will not be grinded, it may be vastly deformed, even torn to pieces, but it won't reach the fundamental level of grinding, especially in the bag and not in the pocket.

The level of realism you're trying to profess hurts my brain. If you're worried about grinding ingredients, you may as well start worrying about your potions breaking, and reverse-pickpocketing gold into the shopkeeper because those beakers shouldn't be free, and...

Seriously speaking, though, I imagine it's implied that people gathering fragile or plant-like ingredients probably have volcanic glass cases to keep specimens in. If you want to increase realism, just limit the amount of ingredients you carry.

You are missing the whole concept of a bag for carrying ingredients. They are not rubbed against the carrier's body and are not in a tight space like pocket. If anything they will "jump" up and down while you are fighting wolves. The actual deformations will be on the very minor level, not enough to release magical essence. Even then, for safety, you should retrieve the ingredients from your bag with gloves, as there are no poisons that do not require contact with a person.

Really great article, Vaz! I feel smarter every time I read something of yours ^_^ Question, do you think assassin's daggers might make sense to have been specially designed as thinner so they could be poisoned on the fly more easily?

I think the whole concept of assassination is focused on applications of poisons before striking and not on in-combat use. The assassins stay undetected and the victim should never know that their death is near before the poisoned dagger pierces their heart. As mentioned by Fire and Darkness the Morag Tong preferred more bolder edge for their daggers:

"I congratulate you on your artistry, and the balance and heft of your daggers. The knife blade is whisper thin, elegantly wrought, but inpractical. It must have a bolder edge, for arteries, when cut, have a tendencies to self seal, preventing adequate blood loss."


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