Jay Wilson Explains Poison Damage in Diablo III

DiabloWikiPoison damage works much differently in Diablo III than it does in most other RPGs (such as Diablo 2) and Jay Wilson took some Twitter time to try to clarify things.

how do the witch doctor posion mechanics work, do they reset when added i.e. like the warrior rend. –sebducker
Poison in D3 does not act like D2. It’s not a guaranteed dot. If a skill has a DoT reapplying refreshes duration unless noted. –JayWilson

with that said, is there a way of increasing the chance to poison the target or is there just a set % to poison? –sebducker
there is no ‘chance to poison’. If you hit, you hit.

so basically the target will only be poisoned by one poison effect,the one which does the most damage for the longest period? –sebducker
So, no DOT. Some skills have DOT mechanics, and some of those skills use poison damage, but poison damage does not DOT by default. –JayWilson

I’ll repeat: poison damage does not work like D2. It does not apply a persistent effect, it’s a type of damage like fire or holy. –JayWilson

I suppose this is simpler, with poison just another type of damage, and not one that works in some special different way than all the others as it did in D2. I can also remember how hard it was to calculating poison damage D2, once you had multiple sources of poison adding DPS, stacking or resetting the duration, etc. That said, it seems weird to rethink it now, since the whole concept of poison is that it takes some time to hurt or kill, whether in real life or video games.

Note that Diablo III has (or had, who knows how things have changed recently) a DiabloWikiDisease type of damage which dealt DoT while also adding a reduced damage debuff. (Both Poison and Disease are mitigated by a character’s poison resistance.) Also note that poison damage is often called “Acid,” such as from the WD’s DiabloWikiAcid Cloud skill. Confused yet?

Tagged As: | Categories: Blizzard People, Diablo 3


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  1. Alright, nice! The way poison worked in D2 was nice, but needlessly complex. Basically different sources of poison stack as you would expect:

    Let’s say you hit every second with a spell that does 5 poison damage across 2 second. And you hit 2 times:
    t0: First hit
    t1: 2.5 damage from hit 1 + second hit
    t2: 2.5 damage from hit 1 + 2.5 damage from hit 2
    t 3: 2.5 damage from hit 2.
    Total damage: 10 damage (2 hits of 5 damage) across 3 seconds (1 second overlaps).

    • You’re correct, if the different sources for the DoT were two different skills or in the case of one specific skill, two different players. Otherwise, DoTs won’t stack.

  2. Don’t forget that it stopped stuff from regenerating, just like the  “wounding” affixes.

  3. Oh hey, a Flux speculation! 😛
    Regardless: Poison as its own thing makes sense. The nature of the damage is that acidid, body-attacking, well, poison or “disease” that does not directly hurt you like fire or ice, but attacks the body in a different way.
    Hence the different resistance, hence the green display. Nothing confusing about it, imho.

  4. It may be for the best. Poison got neglected in d2.

  5. What’s confusing about Acid Cloud? Its tooltip makes it very clear, that it does Poison damage.
    Disease damage seems to be gone from the game, unless monsters use it.

    • then it should be called Poison Cloud 

      Acid would affect zombies, poison would not 

      • In a game world it doesn’t physics doesn’t matter unless stated otherwise with resistance or immunity.

        All green damage is poison, disease effect is only applied with Witch Doctors “Bad Medicine” passive.

      • That’s an arbitrary conclusion.  Poisons can inhibit muscle coordination, and seeing as zombies have muscles, it could affect them.  Poisons can degrade bones, or destroy marrow, so it could have that affects on zombies and skeletons as well, making them brittle and weak.
        On the other hand, zombies presumably don’t feel pain, and may be cold and wet from the earth, so you could just as easily say that they don’t take damage from fire or ice.
        Seeing as Diablo doesn’t use D&D rules, I don’t think we need to consider preserving their classical affinities.  “Zombie” as a term is almost never conclusively agreed upon.  I happen to think the whole concept of a zombie is pretty dumb.

    • Agreed. What’s so confusing about having to read a tooltip to see the damage type?

      You could say the same thing about Magic Missile: It doesn’t do “magic” damage, it does “arcane” damage. Wave of Light deals “holy” damage, not “light” damage. Etc. etc.

  6. Jay should have just answered more simply: “Poison makes your attacks green. That’s it.”

    • A critical reply from you? Impossibru!

    • He said it very simply for anyone who knows what a DoT is, and I’d kinda expect anyone who’s kept up with the action/rpg genre over the past 10 years to have that knowledge. Jay’s first reply hit the nail on the head for me.

  7. So basically you hit, you dmg the exact amount of dmg and that’s all? In this case only the “I’ll repeat…” part would have been enough explanation. Its a source of direct and immediate dmg (unless noted otherwise).

    Btw there are still DoTs in the game, are there any knowledge about their mechanics? (stacking, reseting, clipping ect?) 

    • Jay’s very first reply addresses your questions about DoTs. Quote: “If a skill has a DoT reapplying refreshes duration unless noted.”

  8. They are making the game more and more casual and simplistic every day… It will end up being like an action/adventure mario game. You suck Blizzard! Really…

    • Have to agree. Poison damage in D2 was far more interesting. Now it’s just like someone else said: makes your attack green.


  9. …don’t think casual is the right critique…this is more real…acids (strong) are poisons…poisons should act immediately (sarin, OP insecticides, curare, etc) to be effective in battle…it would be semi-retarded to throw asbestos at someone in battle and say, ‘haha…you will die…in 20 years…of mesothielioma’…(while he bludgeons you to death in the present)…besides fire doesn’t kill people right away either, explosions do though…

    • It’s got nothing to do with “real”, and no acids aren’t poisons, they’re completely unrelated to eachother. (And if you’re going to use a ridiculous example, why use something that isn’t even related to either of them?)

      No, the magic word everyone is looking for is “streamlining” and of the extreme kind in this case.

      OT: I think of acids as being yellow in videogames.

  10. So is there any point to the different elemental affixes on weps?  Or is it just a pretty shade of corpse color and a weapon glow now.

    • Critical hit does different things for every damage type. (At least it used to; they might have ripped this whole system out last week, for all we know.)

      At any rate, fire crit set the target on fire for DoT. Lightning stunned, Arcane “silenced” etc.  So that’s a big diff for diff types of elemental affixes. And of course monsters have varying resistances, so fire or poison or whatever might be much better choice in certain situations. I’m sure we’ll learn more important/useful aspects of this post-release.

      • “Critical hit does different things for every damage type. (At least it used to; they might have ripped this whole system out last week, for all we know.)”

        Pretty sure there was a blue post a few weeks ago by Bashiok saying they took all that stuff out because they didn’t want to force players to stack fire damage to the get the fire crit effect. 

  11. Poison DOT, it seems that I am alone in mourning ye.  BTW, low blow with that album cover, for those of us that were alive, and aware, to live through it.  😛

  12. Honestly this is way less confusing.

    You have damage sources.  Fire, ice, arcane, etc.  And you have direct hits and DoTs.  A direct hit can be from any of the sources, just like the DoTs.  So you could have a fire DoT, a poison DoT and a physical DoT.

    Way simpler than having certain sources having special hard to figure out behavior.  This is way more straightfoward. 

  13. Sorry guys, i don’t game much. What is Dot?

    • Damage over Time.  Basically any attack that lands and continues to slowly damage the target until it wears off.

    • A “DoT” is a damage-over-time ability – an ability that doesn’t do all of its damage up-front, but rather does damage over a period of time. The Barbarian’s Rend is an example of a DoT – the damage inflicted is spread out over three seconds, rather than all happening when the Barbarian attacks. All poison damage in D2 worked as a DoT – turning your health globe green and causing it to deplete gradually – but that’s no longer the case in D3.

  14. what happened to realism?

  15. My favorite guy in D2 was my Poison Necro! This sucks to hear…

  16. Well JW didn’t exactly spell it out very clearly to begin with, but that seems fine. I was never a huge fan of poison’s main strength being a DoT… I’d rather hit hard and fast if I’m bothering to wade into combat, but it’s good that the possibility of instant or DoT is available. And, presumably, for all element types.

    • Well think about it this way – if you use a long duration poison DoT in conjunction with a fast-hitting skill, you’ll end up doing more damage than if you had two skills that do instant damage, since you can only apply one of them at a time.
      That was the primary appeal of poison damage to me (not in classic D2LoD necessarily, but in its various mods).

      • Some people not being a fan of poison due to it not hitting fast and hard isn’t a problem, infact having different options to choose from kinda is the whole point and appeal of the game. But try to tell that to Blizzard, they seem to be so convinced of their own ineptitude that they’ll streamline, cut out, dumb down everything mildly interesting in name of “balance” and “perfection”.

      • Redrach – yeh, I realise that. It definitely has its utilities, but I did prefer other mods that had their impact straight away. I’d often use poison and not mind (particularly useful if I wanted to hit and run) but it wasn’t really my cup of tea. As Unlogical says, the wealth of options was what was great 🙂

  17. If Blizzard will continue to trim the game down and remove the secondary effects from the elemental damages completely, then why not remove the elemental damages altogether?   Anyway

    Is there any information about elemental damages in the final game? I mean will the cold damage still chill in the final game? or will it have cold effect When I hit the enemies? (and same for the other damage types)

    I mean if the game will be axed and trimmed down even more than the beta version, I will cancel the pre order.      

    • Cry more. Blizzard is cutting away all the crap that made D2 tedious to play, but all the fanboys want is D2 with better graphics. Every time something gets cut we get the same “I won’t buy this game anymore!” crap. Noone is impressed by it and 99% of the people on these boards know Blizzard will bring out a near perfect game and will buy it day 1. If you don’t like progress, then just keep playing Diablo 2.

  18. @ above

    I hope so.

  19. Apparently, to Blizzard, “polishing” means “Dumbing down the game even more”

  20. While D2’s poison system was needlessly complex, I’m really disappointed that poison is just another type of damage now. I’d have preferred it to be solely DoT, perhaps with multiple poison DoTs interacting in some simple way (instead of all being lumped into one DoT as in D2). Now it’s just another “color” of damage. 😥

  21. “”I’ll repeat: poison damage does not work like D2. It does not apply a persistent effect, it’s a type of damage like fire or holy. –JayWilson””
    translation : we couldnt find a way to make DOT stack in an easily understood manner, so we didnt.

    • Nah I think it more that they couldn’t make DOT weapon damage without 1 of 2 things happening.
      A: Damage from DOT weapons becoming massively overpowering (due to each hit adding to DOT damage).
      B: Damage from DOT weapons being negligible (due to the damage dealt being too low, either due to it being weak to avoid A, or not stacking in which case it sucks unless your going to attack 1 and run around like a headless chicken for X secs).

      Best way to avoid both problem A & B is to have weapon damage be instant.

  22. Poison was strange in D2. For example, when using venom, all poison dmg was capped at .4 seconds, no matter how much you applied. Then the viper poison dmg at nihlatak, that was crazy. It seemed to vary to much, but I didn’t care. That’s what made for unique experiences throughout the game. People can bitch and moan about D2 all day, but it was still a kickass game, still being played this many years later.

  23. Wonder what are they paid for, they do like no work other that simplify or cut mechanics.
    Titan Quest has good poison mechanic.
    Diablo 3 is no “release when it is done” instead it is “release when i say so” by Bobby Kotick.
    Game currently looks quite shallow. Too much hype promises too little done.

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