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Guide:The Tao of Poison v1.09, by Bkelly, page 2

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Guide on everything to do with Poison in Patch 1.09. For 1.10+ info, check out Calculating Poison Damage by onderduiker.

Diablo II Strategy Guide Info:

Poison Items

I would like to take a few minutes and discuss some of the more popular poison items that can be found or created. Battles are won or lost in the preparation of a fight, not in the fight itself and a solid understanding of poison sources will continuously lead you to victory.







Effective Poison
[hp over sec]
6 Perfect Emerald Melee Weapon88217586.13602.93over 7
6 Perfect Emerald Ranged Weapon882105086.133617.58over 42
6 TAL Rune Melee Weapon92412590.23451.17over 5
6 TAL Rune Ranged Weapon92575090.232707.03over 30
Small Charm of Anthrax861508.4050.39over 6
Pestilent Small Charm29915029.20175.20over 6
Pestilent Small Charm of Anthrax38530037.60451.17over 12

This table accentuates the difference between ranged and melee weapons. Although the ranged weapons deliver a toxin that works at the same rate as the melee weapons, the length is six times longer resulting in six times more damage. However, those ignorant of poison have no grasp of this difference and label both weapons as doing "+603 damage over 7 seconds". Until we find a cure for these morons, do not believe these numbers on ranged weapons or any damage estimates while using them.

Even melee weapons are labeled improperly because an axe with 6 perfect emeralds does not do "+603 damage over 7 seconds" unless used alone. Since the weapon is actually six poison sources it would be much better to give it six labels that said, "+100 damage over 7 seconds". Many people treat this as one source and then become confused when their damage is nothing like they expect. Just remember that each item in a socket is a source.

Some of the strongest poison sources are magical items with a poisonous prefix and suffix. When found together on a single item, both the rate and the length are added together to create a powerful, long duration item. For example, the pestilent small charm of anthrax is the strongest poison source for its size. Thirteen of these charms can kill Diablo in hell with one shot from a bow.


However, again, the poison ignorant has mislabeled this charm as well. These befuddled nitwits labeled both the damage and duration incorrectly. What else would you expect from people who call Anthrax a poison?

To help my students, I have included in appendix A details of all the rates and durations of poisonous items you may encounter in your travels and a poison calculator that can be found here. These tools should always be trusted over other people's estimations. Many of my previous students have been told their set item's poison values changed just by picking up another object, so do not simply swallow what these idiots tell you. Use your gray matter.

Poison and Skills

There are several abilities that augment poisonous attacks. The Assassin "Venom" and Necromancer "Poison Dagger" skills will enhance the damage and duration of your toxin. If used alone, each skill adds its rated poison to your attacks. When combined with other poison sources, they increase the damage rate normally but also extend the length because their two-second duration is added in the sum of the lengths, but is not considered a source when determining the average. For example, using Poison Dagger with a 3 second charm will result in a 5 second duration (3 sec + 2 sec bonus / 1 item). Two charms with the Venom skill will have a 4 second duration (3 sec + 3 sec + 2 sec bonus / 2 items).

The Amazon "Poison Javelin" and "Plague Javelin" skills act just like another poison source when attacking a target with a ranged weapon. The rate and length of the skill are added to the effective toxin rate and length. However, these attacks also create poison clouds that may infect other creatures. Since these clouds do no physical damage, creatures will only suffer with the base poison damage of the skill.

The Druid's "Rabies" and the Necromancer's "Poison Nova" and "Poison Explosion" skills also do no physical damage, so these toxins cannot be improved with other poison sources. Although the Druid's Poison Creeper does physical damage, it is a separate entity and will not inherit an enhanced toxin from your sources. A Necromancer's skeletal mage's poison is also not enhanced by items, but thier toxin's duration can be increased through a higher skeleton mastery.

Information on skills that compliment your strikes can be found in appendix B. No skills other than these will affect poison attacks except for the Amazon "Multiple Shot" skill. Its -25% damage modifier affects all damage, including poison damage rates. Although this will cause your total poison damage to drop, it deliciously prolongs suffering.

Poison Control

Although I am very careful, a few of my students have fallen ill while working with toxins. It is to these careless types that I write this section. Read it all and put it to memory in case it is needed. Panic only makes poison work faster.

First of all, an antidote is not required even if the dose would topple Bul-Kathos himself. Although monsters and hirelings quickly perish when poisoned, people will not. You may become drained of all hit points but one, but you cannot be killed by poison alone.

Poison does prevent monsters from healing themselves, but it does not prevent people from regenerating. If a very light toxin infects you and your regeneration pluses are higher than the poison rate, there is no problem; you may just be a little slower to recover from an unexpected injury.

Poison resistance is very effective at reducing poison effectiveness, something many of my kinsmen know well after encountering monsters that possess it. Increasing this stat will decrease the damage rate of poisons that infect you. For example, a 25% poison resistance will modify a damage rate of 20 dam/sec to 15 (20 dam/sec * (1 - .25)). This will result in a 25% damage reduction.

A less known poison defense is poison length reduction. A value here of 50% will cut the length of absorbed toxins in half, which will result in half as much damage. For example, a 4 second toxin will only last for 2 seconds. Length resistances add together, so two 25% reductions in length would result in a 50% reduction (.25 + .25). The maximum length reduction is 75% and this cannot be increased with items or skills.

Keep in mind that length reduction is lowered in certain "nightmare" and "hell" regions of the realm, just as elemental resistances are. If in "hell" with no poison protection, you will have -100% poison resistance and length reduction, so poison will be twice as strong for double the duration. To increase your poison length reduction in "hell" to the maximum 75%, you would need to wear items that add up to 175% length reduction.

Items or skills that reduce poison length will specifically say so. "Resist All" items and the Barbarian "Natural Resistance" skill only increase poison resistance, not length reduction. The only skill that will neutralize a toxin faster is the Paladin "Cleansing" aura.

Someone who is a complete oaf should consider using both resistance and length reduction because they compliment each other well. 25% in both will result in 44% less damage (1 - ((1 - .25) * (1 - .25))). Boost both values to 75% and receive almost 94% less damage (1 - ((1 - .75) * (1 - .75))).


The last point I wish to make is that toxins are not about bite damage and lengths. It is the satisfaction and power you feel from a well-executed assassination. Work to understand this, and you will discover the joy in the tao of poison as I have.

The time you have spent reading in this class is a good sign. You may yet have the patience to embrace this wondrous discipline. Study hard my student and be sure to love your work.

And be sure to attend my next class, "How to punish children for non-existent crimes."


My enlightenment is thanks to Ruvanal, the Alex Trebek of the Toxic Templar.