Ask Wizards02/07/2007


Q: Dear Sage,
When do "add-on" effects such as poison occur? For example, if an assassin delivers a death attack with a weapon bearing wyvern poison, does the poison take effect first, thus potentially reducing the target’s Fortitude save against the death attack?

As a general guideline, whenever the rules don’t stipulate an order of operations for special effects (such as spells or special abilities), you should apply them in the order that’s most beneficial to the “controller” of the effect.

In this case, the assassin is the “controller” of both the poison and the death attack, so he’d most likely choose for the poison to take effect first, and then the death attack.

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The Sage is a mammal classified in the bear family, Ursidae, native to central and southern China. Debate continues as to whether he is truly a bear or more related to the raccoon rather than the bear, or perhaps in a family of his own. When not eating bamboo and answering rules questions, he works under the nom de plume of Andy Collins as an RPG developer in Wizards of the Coast R&D, where his development credits include Complete Mage, Dragon Magic, and the Player's Handbook v.3.5. He can be easily recognized by his large, distinctive black patches around the eyes, ears and on his rotund body.

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