Can you make effective poisons/acids/flammables from basic ingredients that would be useful in fighting monsters?

I am writing a story about a MC who goes into Portals to kill monsters (Typical DnD setting: Orcs, elves, etc.) before exiting the Portal again to get back to earth. He is a basic dude with an average IQ (basic medical training, nothing more).

He wants to make Poisons, acids or flammables to fight the monsters, but can only make them from the ingredients/resources he found inside a Portal and brought back with him. (Earth materials cannot enter the Portal).

He’d have access to local flora and fauna, the corpses of monsters, basic metals such as iron or copper, bits of rocks, etc that he can bring back with him.

He can process the material back on earth where he’d have proper equipment and can do research on it, but I’d prefer it if he could do it on his own, not hire the world’s greatest chemist.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Is there a worldbuilding problem here? The obvious answer is "yes" if the character has the basic knowledge to make poisons, acids, and flammables and "no" if he/she does not. It's made more complex by the fact that said person doesn't actually know anything about the chemistry of the other world. But in the end, if you want them to they will. If you don't want them to they won't. Please remember we answer questions about the rules of your world, not the actions or choices of characters or organizations. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 21, 2022 at 6:55
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH then it is a yes. The plot demands it, so it can as easily be yes. In addition, it can be learned. As there is a need for it, the MC can search for acids, poisons and even explosives. A deep course in chemistry and applying geology can do the trick, but searching for home made acidic cleaning agents might also get results. The point is that the need for making such things can push the MC to search for the knowledge how to make it. Incidentally this can even lead to a progress of the MC in improving and expanding her/his arsenal over time. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Jun 21, 2022 at 7:10
  • $\begingroup$ Can we assume that chemistry works in the same way in the portal? If it does then presumably he has access to the same elements that he would on Earth. It is not difficult to make dangerous substances. The electrolysis of salt water will produce caustic soda and chlorine gas / bleach. The list is almost endless... $\endgroup$
    – Slarty
    Jun 21, 2022 at 7:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Trioxidane If the plot demands it then the question should be closed as too story-based. (That's the basis of "too story-based." As in, "the answer depends too much on the demands of your plot....") $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 21, 2022 at 7:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ How do you interpret "earth materials cannot enter the portal"? The dull option is that Earthly wrapping paper simply stops at the portal and won't enter. The cool option is that it disappears from the package that arrives ... in which case, you can also make specific atoms disappear, producing some extremely unstable compounds if desired. The big mystery is why he can enter the portal. And the spicy question is what happens to the fried chicken he ate the night before? $\endgroup$ Jun 21, 2022 at 17:46

2 Answers 2


Poisons are not usually that difficult to come by. The type of poison is more of a problem. For example, a rusted dagger could easily cause tetanus, a arrowhead that was stuck in the ground would have all kinds of bacteria on it causing nasty infections. This effect could conceivably be accelerated if it was smeared with feces. This should be common knowledge to your MC due to his basic medical training.

Poisons used for assassinations are a bit more difficult since that would require more knowledge about the world being entered. If the world is similar enough to ours, then what looks poisonous in our world is also likely poisonous there. So stuff like red mushrooms, yellow toads, etc. could act as good sources of poison though those would be hit or miss. It would be more risky to try and catch snakes and spiders for more fast acting poisons but this would put the MC at risk.

Creating acids should reasonably be outside the capabilities of your MC. The average modern world joe doesn't know how to make any kind of acid, there is no reason to believe that he should have the tiniest inkling either.

Flamables on the other hand should be a easy enough for your protagonist to figure out. It doesn't take any skill to take things and light it on fire to see the outcome.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Green vitriol can naturally form pools of highly concentrated sulfuric acid around old mines that don't take any special knowledge or effort to manufacture. This kind of hazard is well known to any locals who live around such old mines; so, your MC does not need any special knowledge. He just needs to talk to the locals to learn of it. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jun 21, 2022 at 14:54

Not without a lot of specialized (or even uncommon) knowledge, which the question says the MC does not have (based on "basic medical training, nothing more"). Even with the theoretical knowledge, creating poisons, acids and flammables is inherently dangerous. Without education and practical experience the MC is likely to harm or kill themselves by accident before they manage to create something useful.

This is true even if the MC were still on earth. Materials with interesting chemicals are not labeled as such and a layman has no chance to identify them. Same for animals and plants. Since this question asks about another world, the little knowledge the MC has is even less useful. Are elves, orcs and the various monsters even susceptible to the same poisons as humans?

Since this is a story, the MC could of course be very lucky and simply find what they need in a form ready to use. Or also common in stories, mcGyver together whatever they want. For more realism, the MC should learn about basic chemistry on earth - less likely to kill themselves by accident and more likely to give results before the MC dies of old age.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .