But in our last session of play, gearing up to fight a venom-tailed wyvern, the player innocently asked if they could buy some anti-venom at the apothecary in town. With a successful availability roll (-3 seemed about right), a flask of the substance was found. After some haggling ("what price life itself?") the sovereign antitoxin was procured for a measly hundred silver pieces and packed on the person of the dwarf. Good thing, too; in the combat, the self-same dwarf, being the party member least likely to do so, failed a poison save, but had the remedy quick to hand and chugged it before the poison could take effect.
(I'm just noticing, by the way, that I don't feel the need to explain the silver standard in my game. Why? Well, even D&D Next uses it now.)
Although I may want to increase the standard price, there's no doubt to me that making antitoxins readily available through alchemists and apothecaries is a good move. Play-wise, it lets the threat of lethal poison remain, while offering a way out of its dangers through skillful planning and treasure spending. In terms of historical legends and folklore, a huge number of things were supposed to be a sovereign remedy for poison:
- Bezoar (calcified stone found in the stomach)
- Toadstones (stones spit out by a toad)
- The correct half of a toad liver
- Powdered amethyst or emerald
- Herbs: Garlic, Vervain, Betony, Mistletoe, Mithridatum, Theriac
- Unicorn horn
- Confection of Cleopatra (not the best spokesmodel for surviving poison, but you have to agree she's strangely appropriate for a beverage of musk, birthwort and scorpions macerated in wine)
Such a sovereign antidote costs, as base, 200 sp and has availability -3. It is a small, non-encumbering flask. After a failed poison saving throw incapacitates a character, he or she has only 1 round (6 seconds) of feeble ability to take out and apply the antidote. Beyond that, active colleagues have 5 more rounds to administer an antidote. Success means recovery from incapacitation in d6 minutes.
Poison is common enough between monsters, traps, potions, and villainous weapons that it's really something adventurers should have some kind of chance against.