What Is the Poisoner Feat in DnD 5e?
The Poisoner Feat allows you to overcome damage resistance in creatures that are resistant to poison damage and use poisons more effectively in combat.
With many monsters and creatures, especially at higher CR ratings, having resistance to this damage type, the Poisoner Feat can really improve your potential damage output and put enemies at a significant disadvantage.
You can prepare and deliver deadly poisons, granting you the following benefits:
- When you make a damage roll that deals poison damage, it ignores resistance to poison damage.
- You can apply poison to a weapon or piece of ammunition as a bonus action, instead of an action.
- You gain proficiency with the poisoner’s kit if you don’t already have it. With one hour of work using a poisoner’s kit and expending 50 gp worth of materials, you can create a number of doses of potent poison equal to your proficiency bonus.
- Once applied to a weapon or piece of ammunition, the poison retains its potency for 1 minute or until you hit with the weapon or ammunition. When a creature takes damage from the coated weapon or ammunition, that creature must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or take 2d8 poison damage and become poisoned until the end of your next turn.
Poisoner Feat Explained
When we look at the amount of monsters that are resistant to poison damage, we can quickly realize that it isn’t a great damage type to deal out.
However, The Poisoner Feat allows us to ignore that resistance, which is a huge boon.
Spells like Poison Spray and Ray of Sickness have a high damage potential, especially at higher levels with cantrip progression, and now we are ignoring resistance, and we can bring that full damage to bear.
Rogues, fighters, rangers, and other martial classes that don’t have a particularly useful niche for the bonus action can also now gain additional damage output with the ability to coat weapons as a bonus action.
With the reasonably high DC of 14, many creatures are going to fail this saving throw and end up at disadvantage for at least a round, assuming they survive at all!
Other Uses for the Poisoner Feat
We know mechanically that we get a good damage boost and can really disable an enemy, but what are some of the other benefits of the feat?
Well, gaining proficiency with the Poisoners kit is particularly useful, especially if you are in wilderness areas, under dark caves, or most areas where plants grow.
The kit gives you the ability to handle poisons without exposing yourself to harmful effects and to learn which plants, creatures, or other things in your local area might be poisonous (and therefore a resource for you to exploit!).
If you or your comrades become poisoned, you also gain insights on how to treat that.
In games where you have political intrigue, assassination plots, or are maybe even working as assassins, these are all things that can be exceptionally useful.
Poisoner Use Cases
We already mentioned Poison Spray and Ray of Sickness, but what are some of the other particularly nasty ways you can use this feat?
As a fighter you gain two attacks at level 5. Assuming you are using just one weapon and have a stack of poison at your disposal, you can use that bonus action to keep applying for most of the fight.
Each time you do that, you have that chance of dealing an additional 2d8. Your turn structure would look something like this:
Bonus Action – Apply Poison
Action – Attack (twice)
Next Turn – Assuming hit, you just repeat this step gaining that additional 2d8 damage, but if you miss both attacks, this is where it gets interesting.
Action – Attack (and hit!)
Bonus Action – Apply Poison
Action – Attack Again!
Hit or miss, you should (provided you have a stock of poison) almost always be attacking with a poisoned blade.
Much the same as above, with the admixture of hunter’s mark for your first round attack. You can always apply the poison before combat starts too, as it lasts for 1 minute.
With this and some sharpshooting (if you took Variant Human for two Feats), then we could be dealing per round:
1d8 Piercing, + 2d8 Poison, + 1d6 Hunter’s Mark + 10 sharpshooter. For an average of 29 damage.
For this, we’re taking the assassin subclass, for obvious reasons. Our first attack is hopefully going to be a critical hit – we just have to land it.
So we should be dealing:
2d8 piercing, + 4d8 Poison, + 6d6 sneak. Maybe we leave sharpshooter at the door for this one because that’s already a lot of damage at roughly 50. Living boldly, we can, of course, increase that with sharpshooter.
Any other class, such as the Warlock or Bard, can also benefit from this increase in damage output, but with them having other beneficial things they can do with their bonus actions or wishing to stay at range, this feat is mostly geared toward martial classes, at least mathematically.
However don’t let that stop your warlock or College of Whispers Bard from taking this purely for flavor – it has a payoff!
Why Take It Over Feats?
The Poisoner Feat gives us something that a lot of other feats don’t – a tool proficiency and a consistent way to improve our damage.
We gain in- and out-of-combat utility from the Feat and also add a little flavor to our character.
We already discussed the numbers above, but one of the other huge factors is the disadvantage we are applying to those we strike.
If we’re using a bow, there’s a chance we could be causing that disadvantage to more than one enemy, which greatly increases our chances of winning the fight.
If an ally becomes poisoned, there is also an increased chance they will survive or that you can help them!
Out of Combat
If you are going to be diving into wilderness areas, caves, or areas your party isn’t familiar with, knowing what plants and mushrooms are edible and which ones are going to get you killed is vital.
Being able to gather poisons in these areas also allows you to be self-sufficient, circling back to the “In Combat” Section.
Finding Vials of unmarked liquid will no longer be a case of the guessing game or the ol’ taste test. Your character is now an expert in poisons and should be able to both handle and discern the purpose of poisons.
It can also add a spark of life to your character – a life cleric versed in poisons as a means of treating them but quickly finding out they can be used in offense too.
Your Druid learned by experimentation in the forest and is well versed in which mushrooms make a good stew and which make your enemies expire.
Feats, as much as they do offer mechanical advantages, are a fantastic gateway to character expansion and development.
Never be afraid to take a feat because it helps tell the story of who your character is and how they got to be the way they are!