From the introduction:
Poisons, and their use, have been around sense the dawn of mankind. From suicide and execution to assassination, poison is often times the weapon of choice. Socrates was given poison hemlock after being sentenced to death, while during the Renaissance and Enlightenment, a favored delivery method for poison was a chocolate drink. Even in modern times poisons are still used; the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was killed by ricin poisoning in 1978 after being injected from a dart hidden in an umbrella. Poisons have also been a favorite method of murder in novels and movies from Agatha Christie to Arthur Conan Doyle, Frank Capra (Arsenic and Old Lace) to Alfred Hitchcock (Notorious).
The term poison is often loosely used to describe not only substances that can be created from toxic plants, metals and other materials but also to the toxins secreted or injected by all variety of animals. Poisons are used because they are deadly by nature; it is only the dosage that makes a poison less toxic. In contrast, many venoms and toxins created by plants and animals may have other non-lethal effects, such as paralysis, and are not necessarily designed to kill. This is an important distinction as most of the poisons listed in this book (arsenic, hemlock, cyanide, etc.) are extremely deadly. Many types of venom can be used to kill if applied in the right dosage, but they generally are less deadly than more ‘traditional’ poisons.
But why do people turn to poisons? For some, the use of a poison is a coward’s way of dealing death. For others, poisons represent a force multiplier, allowing a relatively weak or unskilled person the ability to take out a more powerful opponent. Sometimes poisonings happen by accident, or through negligence on the part of one party or another. No matter the reason or cause, poisons will always find a way to deal death.
This book focuses only on poisons and is divided into two parts. The first part is a general section looking at the basics of poisons (types, vectors, preparation, and delivery), skill challenges, tools and equipment necessary in the poisoner’s kit, and other useful items for the GM. The second part looks at the ‘traditional’ poisons and provides descriptions and stat blocks. All of the poisons listed in this book can be found in the ‘real’ world. Their rules for use during a game are designed to closely match the symptoms of the real poison, whenever possible.