The imagined tapping of a tarantula’s feet as it scurries across some parchment on the table, the slithering of a venomous asp in pursuit, a series of vials with liquids of questionable properties waiting for a dagger application, a hooded assassin grinning over their newest lethal concoction. The poisoner feat opens the doors for assassins and intrigue, taking a feature that should have played a larger part in more 5E campaigns and making it far more playable in the 5th Ed system.
The Poisoner feat was introduced via Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, and added more guidance and mechanics to help both players and DMs understand the use of poison and poison damage.
The Poisoner feat is an important 5th Edition D&D feat that brings much needed mechanics to the use of poison adding easy mechanics for making and applying poison, as well as granting expertise to ignore poison resistance (but not immunity).
Is the poisoner feat a good feat, a feat masquerading as long overdue rules that should have been in the earlier core books, or somewhere in between? Read on to find out!
Breaking Down the Poisoner Feat
The poisoner feat brings some solid rules to the use of poison, and creates an intriguing feat that is very niche in its application (definitely no pun intended) but quite good in that narrow focus.
Directly from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything:
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.
Lets break down those individual benefits more thoroughly.
Benefit #1: When you make a damage roll that deals poison damage, it ignores resistance to poison damage.
There are many enemies in the Monster Manual that have resistance to poison damage. This benefit allows your expertise in poison to counteract that natural resistance. This is an excellent benefit that can be incredibly powerful because it not over adds damage from overcoming resistance but it makes tough enemies that much more killable.
This also should inspire confidence in using your exotic poisons as you still get the benefits in addition to overcoming resistance, making all the strikes that much more effective.
Benefit #2: You can apply poison to a weapon as a bonus action instead of an action.
This is good from a mechanical standpoint, especially for DMs who are sticklers for RAW. However, from a practical standpoint for many players this won’t do much as at many tables I’ve played at the DM already ruled this as a bonus action, allowed dipping of weapons into poison that would last for a minute, or had PCs like rogues create special “sheathes” that would poison the blade when drawn – but required some serious gold to get it.
In other words, most games have DnD home rules that work as well or better in-game as this mechanic, so depending on what type of group you play with from a practical standpoint this may or may not be a benefit.
Benefit #3: You gain proficiency with the poisoner’s kit.
Nothing special, but mechanically necessary and it does open this feat up for use among more classes than just the rogue.
Benefit #4: With the kit and 50 gp you can create poison doses equal to your proficiency bonus.
The dose of poison lasts on a weapon for one minute or until the weapon or piece of ammunition hits an enemy, whichever comes first. It’s a decent amount and allows the feat to scale, however arguably this makes it a little weaker than it otherwise would be. But since enemies have less hit points at lower levels, the poison will be more effective overall as a proportion of damage to the enemy.
At least in theory, but if you’re an archery-based fighter at level 20 handed a bunch of poisoned arrows, that can add a whole lot of damage to a single turn of attacks.
5E Classes That Should Take the Poisoner Feat
There are two classes that stick out immediately as being built for the poisoner feat (or vice-versa depending on how you look at it). Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first.
Rogues are absolutely a class you expect to have some serious knowledge of poisons from both a thematic standpoint as well as a mechanical standpoint in-game. It makes sense, especially considering the use of weapons like daggers and blow darts or hand crossbows, which without sneak attack or some type of damage bonus (like from poison) would definitely lag behind.
Especially for a class like rogues, which are considered a damage-dealing class.
Rogues even have an extra spot for an ability score improvement or a feat, and adding that into a rogue build makes a lot of sense for theme, for roleplaying, and now has mechanical guides that can make the rogue all the more effective.
Rangers can be one hell of a damage class when properly built, and giving them 6 poisoned arrows to use on top of Hunter’s Mark, Sharpshooter, and Colossus Slayer, in addition to possibly and Oath Bow and even sneak attack from any Rogue multi-class min/max, and you have a devastating combo.
Especially on a critical hit.
While rangers have to be planned out very carefully to be effective, even after the positive improvements made from amendments via Tasha’s, if you can fit this feat together with the sharpshooter feat and a maxed out Dexterity stat and you’ll be able to do serious damage from a distance and hopefully under cover.
It’s a pretty great combination, and considering the Ranger-Rogue multiclass works together so incredibly well, that makes this class or a multiclass of ranger a great option for the Poisoner feat.
5th Ed Classes that should always take the Poisoner Feat:
5E Classes That Should Consider Taking the Poisoner Feat
There are multiple classes where a conventional build might not naturally scream for the poisoner feat, but if you are building around this feat or with a particular unique style in mind, then there are three non multi-class options that can work really well together with the 5E poisoner feat. Fighter is one example.
Because fighters get so many attacks, and because they have multiple levels with extra ability scores and/or feats, taking time to become proficient with poison and adding it to blades or arrows (depending on the specific build of fighter) makes a lot of sense and not only makes sense mechanically, but can fit in perfectly with many back stories and unconventional styles of fighter.
Trickery Clerics are one of the few branches of cleric where the idea of using poisons or duplicitous means of getting the job done makes sense. Considering clerics in this sub-class tend to serve gods or goddesses who are less “by the book” than the more conventional deities and this can be a fun combo for the right build.
Paladins don’t jump right to mind immediately when it comes to poison, but remember a paladin is just the devoted warrior servant to a deity. “Problematic” deities have their champions, as well, and there are deities that would support paladins that would use every trick in the book to further their deity’s goals…perhaps even to the point of making a warlock blush.
Paladins also have room to build in this direction because they can be built as a one stat class. While charisma is the casting stat, most paladins use a lot of smites and not much else from spells, meaning a decent starting score there, and then a focus on STR or feats can work since even as a partial caster the CHR isn’t as important.
Or go full-charisma and feats and ignore DEX/STR. There are multiple interesting builds that can make a unique poisoner paladin a reality.
5th Ed Classes that should consider taking the Poisoner Feat:
- Cleric (Trickery)
5E Classes That Should NEVER Take the Poisoner Feat
These classes aren’t built for the poisoner feat. This doesn’t mean they couldn’t be used in the right situation or with the right multi-class, but they’re just not going to naturally work well with the poisoner feat in normal circumstances/builds.
These 5th Edition classes shouldn’t take the poisoner feat unless you are specifically creating an unconventional build. Those classes are Artificer, Barbarian, Bard, Clerics, Druids, Monks, Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards.
I have seen some classes that had 1-2 levels of barbarian, artificer, or warlock that made for some interesting builds and worked pretty well with the poisoner feat, however these were definitely unconventional builds made with this feat in mind. Planning matters, and 5E can do a lot of odd things with unconventional builds as long as the player plans well, but generally speaking these are the classes that can skip over this feat without too many thoughts.
5th Ed classes that should never take the Poisoner Feat:
- Clerics (most)
What Poisons Are In 5E D&D?
Poison is an area where DMs often enjoy homebrewing their own, but there are some resources in the core books worth looking at. This includes list of poisons, cost, additional effects, etc. Paying attention of these can add further depth to this feat and to what your character can do. One of the major sources of poison information is The Dungeon Master’s Guide, pages 257-258.
List of Poisons in the DMG for 5th Edition
- Assassin’s Blood
- Burnt Othur Fumes
- Carrion Crawler Mucus
- Drow Poison
- Essence of Ether
- Midnight Tears
- Oil of Taggit
- Pale Tincture
- Purple Worm Poison
- Serpent Venom
- Truth Serum
- Wyvern Poison
This is just a sample of various poisons in the D&D world and is hardly a comprehensive list. Poisoner doesn’t replace the cost or effect of these poisons, I would rule it can be used to add the damage to the effects these poisons already have, but that is a bit open to DM’s discretion.
The Player’s Handbook mentions poison here and there, especially as a type of damage, but doesn’t fill in the details with a lot of additional information.
Final Feat Grade for 5E Poisoner
Poisoner Feat Grade: C+
The Poisoner feat isn’t a bad feat, but it is very narrow and many of the benefits are needed mechanics or minor mechanical upgrades versus huge boons to the player, especially when giving up an ability score improvement for it. For players who want to try a character build that involves poison, this is an excellent feat to pick up and it should be top of the list. As far as a general feat? It’s okay but won’t apply to most builds.
Is the 5E Poisoner Feat Worth It?
For most character builds the poisoner feat doesn’t add a lot to the table. So in that sense this is not a “must have” like the Lucky Feat or Alert Feat that are always strong choices. However, if you really like the idea of the sneaky assassin or fighter who studied “darker martial arts” to bring poison into their bag of tricks then the good news is that the Poisoner feat does what it intends to do very well.
So if you want to play with poisons in 5E then in that case the poisoner feat is worth the pickup. Also talk to the DM about what type of campaign is being played because as this advanced monster search from D&D Beyond shows, there are many monsters immune to poison in 5E.
Poisoner Feat FAQ
Where can I find poison information for D&D 5E?
There isn’t a lot but there’s some information on poison as a buyable item and poison damage in the Player’s Handbook, as well as a good section on various poisons in the DMG on pages 257-258. Don’t be afraid to ask the DM to homebrew some interesting poisons as this is the type of creativity that most DMs LOVE to dive into.
Does poisoner ignore immunity in 5E?
The poisoner feat has no effect on immunity. While it can ignore resistance it does NOT ignore immunity nor does it downgrade poison immunity down to resistance.
What can you make with a poisoner kit?
You can make doses of standard poison. This is all that can be done as RAW, and proficiency with a poisoner kit is necessary which anyone who takes the Poisoner feat will have. If there are additional things you would like to do, i.e. experiment with turning an inhaled poison into a liquid or something similar to that, talk to your DM about the possibilities to see what they might be amenable to.
Does the poisoner feat add extra damage to the exotic poison effects listed in the DMG?
That isn’t how it works RAW, however this is actually a pretty reasonable assumption for poisons that can be applied to weapons, but ask your DM as they are the final arbitrators of such decisions.
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Proud to embrace the locally created moniker of “Corrupt Overlord” from one of the all time great Lords of Waterdeep runs, Shane is one member of the Assorted Meeples crew and will be hard at work creating awesome content for the website. He is a long-time player of board games, one time semi-professional poker player, and tends to run to the quirky or RPG side of things when it comes to playing video games. He loves tabletop roleplaying systems like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Werewolf, Fate, and others, and not only has been a player but has run games as DM for years. You can find his other work in publications like Level Skip or Hobby Lark.