I am coming up with a character that is able to produce poisons from his own body. He does this by analyzing the DNA of various poisonous animals and plants, and being able to 'manufacture' whatever poison he wants within his own body (naturally he is immune to said poisons). He would coat his weapon in poison before fights and only would need a scratch (at most 5 mg) to kill someone in seconds.

Since he comes from Earth (regular human Earth), I want to know if there are particular natural poisons or poisonous mixtures that can produce this effect. Most natural poisons, it seems based on my research, take at least 10 minutes to kill someone (which is too long in a fight).
Is there a natural poison or poisonous concoction that can produce this effect?

Note that most of the targets are around 86 kg or around 191 pound adult men of 20-30 years of age. If no such toxin or toxic mixture exists, I can settle for full body or half body paralysis within the same time frame (within 20-30 seconds after introduction into the bloodstream).

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    $\begingroup$ VTC: lack of research. There are poisons available that do all sorts of kill, instant or "within seconds" included. However, searching for lethal poisons might bring you behind bars in some jurisdictions on terrorist-based grounds, so I'd better not ask or answer this question. $\endgroup$
    – Vesper
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 14:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Vesper There's no valid closure reason for a lack of research, so please avoid stating this reason for that. A more valid reason is that it's more a real-world ask than a worldbuilding one : in essence, it's "just" asking for a quick-death poison. The fact there's a super hero/villain producing it is quite irrelevant here unfortunately 😕. You can downvote for lack of research if you haven't already, however :). $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ ATTENTION CLOSE VOTERS Lack of research is NOT a valid reason to close questions. Please retract your votes. If you roll your mouse over the down-vote icon, you'll see that down voting is the method of expressing disappointment with presented research. Further, if you search for "poison" on this Stack, you'll find 400+ questions. We answer questions like this all the time. We're likely all on the U.S. Homeland Security Watch List already anyway, so in for a penny.... $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ @GuyRansom, Sorry for the rough treatment. It is normal for querents to present some of their research (in your case, a list of the poisons you looked at) so we can see why something isn't working for you and get an idea of where to go with the answers. 10 seconds in a fight is certainly a long time, but you might be underestimating the effects of the poison during those 10 seconds. Few (if any) poisons simply exist for (e.g.) ten seconds and then the person drops dead. There's usually a list of debilitating side effects that happen long before death. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 15:25
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    $\begingroup$ On the matter of making research, I'd advise to get click-baited willingly : Search for instance "top 10 poisons" on your favorite search engine and I'm sure you'll find something that matches your taste (no, I didn't mean to taste the poison :p!). Just cross-reference what you found there with other sources : Some website/videos "over-sell" their content. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 12, 2023 at 16:12

1 Answer 1


a scratch... to kill someone in seconds.

Here's the main problem: if I scratch your little toe and introduce enough super-potent neurotoxin to guarantee your demise, it'll take more than a few seconds for it to reach the bits of your body that make you go (eg. heart, brain) and so there's literally no way to guarantee that even the nastiest toxin can slay you in an instant.

In order to guarantee that sort of thing, I need to make sure the poison gets in to some suitably large bit of plumbing which will take it to where it needs to go as quickly as possible. Here comes problem number two: if I've just stabbed you in your femoral artery or carotid or wherever, there's a good chance you'll drop dead in the very near future regardless of how toxic my weapon was, because all your blood will fall out.

For a real world example, consider the neuroparalytic suxamethonium, used in medical procedures (which can kill by paralysing the lungs). Can take effect in 30 seconds following intraveinous delivery, but can take ten to thirty minutes if delivered intramuscularly.

What seems fractionally more plausible is a combination of an incapacitating chemical and some strong neurotoxin. Bullet ant stings are famously extremely painful, though there's generally not enough toxin to actually kill a human-sized victim. Similarly, stings from things like the Arizona bark scorpion produce immediate pain that spreads and has additional neurotoxic effects that can be incapacitating (though generally not lethal, given the amounts involved in a scorpion sting).

Rendering an opponent unable to fight effectively isn't quite what you want, but the effect is pretty similar and it gives time for more lethal neurotoxic effects to arise and finish them off.

analyzing the DNA of various poisonous animals and plants, and being able to 'manufacture' whatever poison he wants

As a footnote, consider that many potent natural toxins (eg. anatoxin, a cyanobacterial neurotoxin that can potentially kill in a minute if injected) are non-ribosomal peptides. That means you can't trivially determine their structure just by frowning at DNA real hard... you need to work out that the DNA produces specialised synthesases which then manufacture the poison. Being able to determine all of the potential second- and higher-order chemicals that DNA could produce, and being able to synthesize any of those chemicals at will, and deciding the best thing to do is to poison knives and stick them in people seems like a bit of a waste of talent, to say the least. Parallels can be drawn with the classic spiderman panel, where the villain Sauron explains he doesn't want to cure cancer with his superpowers, he just wants to turn people into dinosaurs.

If nothing else, your guy can make good money synthesizing botulinum toxin... that stuff is worth something like a million dollars per milligram (you generally only need sub-nanogram quantities for medical and cosmetic procedures). Why fight when you can make bank?

  • $\begingroup$ Some super potent GimpieGimpie toxin would get my vote. I had the same idea, but reconsidered. Pain toxins might not work the way you want. In an adrenalin rush people might not notice such excruciating pain until later. But it is definitely part of the puzzle to effectively render anyone incapacitated with only a scratch. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Commented Oct 13, 2023 at 11:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Trioxidane now i think about it, a small quantity of anticyanide would finish someone off pretty quickly, though I'm not sure if you can stretch "immunity to poisons you produce" as far as "nuke-proof", however. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 13, 2023 at 15:51

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