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

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Replies to This Discussion

This is really cool Vaz!

Thanks Phil! :)))
When in combat, I Role Play that the bottle is smashed over the blade at the top and then drips onto the rest of the blade. This means that a lot of the poison can be lost, I RP this by using a weak poison, and then dropping the stronger poison later.
What about Argonians or Khajiit(as far as I can tell, gloves/gauntlets are fingerless on them)?
As far as I remember the models are the same for beast races so that should not make difference. The basic Gloves cover fingers for sure.

How does reverse-pickpocketing poisons onto enemies work? Do you stealthily inject the poison into the bloodstream?

Maybe you sneaked a bit into their drink, which they happened to take a swig of directly after you poured it in. Or maybe you could inject it, but the instant pain from the poison masks the pain of the knife, or another poison on the blade could numb the skin.


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