Horrific drugs

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Drugs in the d20 game follow many of the same rules as poisons, allowing the imbiber saving throws to resist their initial and secondary effects. Delay poison, neutralize poison, and similar effects negate or end a drug’s effects, but they do not restore hit points, ability damage, or other damage caused by the substance.


A creature that willingly takes a drug automatically fails both saving throws. It is not possible to intentionally fail the initial save but attempt to save against the secondary effect, or vice versa. Save DCs are provided for situations in which a character is unwillingly drugged.

For more details on drugs and advice on appropriate inclusion of drugs in a campaign, see Book of Vile Darkness or Lords of Darkness.

Drug Addiction

Drug addiction functions much like diseases. The characteristics of certain forms of addiction are summarized on the table below. Upon initial exposure (any time a character imbibes or applies a drug with an addiction rating), the character must succeed on a Fortitude save or become addicted. Instead of having an incubation period as a disease does, a drug has a satiation period, which is the length of time a single dose remains effective in a character’s system. Addiction, if not satisfied by further doses of the drug, proceeds like a disease——the character takes ability damage each day unless he succeeds on a Fortitude save.

Table: Drug Addiction
Addiction Rating Fort DC Satiation Period Damage
Negligible 4 1 day 1d3-2 Dex (can be 0)
Low 6 10 days 1d3 Dex
Medium 10 5 days 1d4 Dex, 1d4 Wis
High 14 1 day 1d6 Dex, 1d6 Wis, 1d6 Con
Extreme 25 1 day 1d8 Dex, 1d8 Wis, 1d6 Con, 1d6 Str

Addiction Rating: Each drug is rated according to its addictive potential, from lowest (negligible) to highest (extreme). Sometimes, an individual’s long-term addiction raises a drug’s addiction rating for that individual. Drugs with a negligible rating are not subject to this change. Stronger drugs increase their addiction rating by one step for every two full months a character remains addicted to the drug. A character who recovers from an addiction and later becomes addicted again to the same drug does so at the addiction rating the drug had just prior to his earlier recovery.

Satiation: Each time a user takes a drug to which he is addicted, he is satiated and staves off withdrawal symptoms for the period of time indicated on the table. Whenever the satiation period expires before the user takes another dose, the DC of the Fortitude save to resist damage (see below) increases by 5. The dose that causes a character to becomes addicted counts for the purpose of tracking the satiation period.

Damage: An addicted user who is not satiated takes the indicated amount of ability damage each day unless the character succeeds on a Fortitude saving throw.

Recovery: If a character makes two successful saving throws in a row, he has fought off his addiction and recovered, and takes no more damage from withdrawal symptoms.

A lesser restoration or restoration spell might negate some or all of the ability damage caused by an addiction, but the next day the victim may take more ability damage if he continues to fail his Fortitude saves. Remove disease immediately causes a user to recover from an addiction, but it does not heal ability damage. Greater restoration or heal causes recovery and restores all ability damage from the addiction.

Sample Drugs

Below are examples of drugs that can be introduced into a campaign; many of them are effective against some sorts of mental disorders. Table: Drugs provides some specifics for each drug, and the text description for each one provides the following additional information.

Initial Effect: The effect of the drug if the initial Fortitude saving throw is failed.

Secondary Effect: The effect of the drug if the secondary Fortitude saving throw is failed 1 minute after ingestion.

Side Effect: The side effect (if any) that occurs immediately upon taking the drug.

Overdose: What (if anything) constitutes an overdose and its effect on the character.

Table: Drugs
Drug Type Price Craft DC Addiction Rating
Arthorvin Ingested DC 12 5 gp 25 Low
Carthagu Ingested DC 13 5 gp 25 Low
Mertoran leaf Ingested DC 13 10 gp 25 Negligible
Zixalix Ingested DC 16 15 gp 25 Medium

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