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224 votes

Can a substance be more lethal in smaller doses?

What you're looking for is an emetic - a substance that induces vomiting. This is the specific reason why, as @Alberto Yagos already stated in his answer, suicide-by-pills doesn't always work - many ...
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161 votes
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A poison that only works if you know it is there

When you are startled, it causes a physiological reaction. Make the effects of the startle reflex a necessary aspect. I know it can make your heart race, and probably dumps adrenaline or something. ...
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100 votes
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Can a substance be more lethal in smaller doses?

Related to cmaster's solution: The "poison" is actually harmless A. The body converts A to B, also harmless. The body converts B to C, deadly. Once the A->B path has saturated you get an A->D path....
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82 votes

A poison that only works if you know it is there

The antidote triggers — or is — the poison If you are looking for a purely mind-activated poison then you are not likely to succeed, no. However, if you can make the subject think they have been ...
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73 votes

A poison that only works if you know it is there

The spider secretes the poison, but contains the antidote. If you drink the drink and see the spider, you're unlikely to decide to consume it. If you don't see the spider, you would most likely just ...
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71 votes

Can a substance be more lethal in smaller doses?

This is perfectly possible, and I guess it could be readily done with modern technology. For less technical settings, you just need to say that some plant happens to produce the poison, it's ...
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55 votes
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A two-thresholds poison: how does it work?

As noted, I feel like my answer to a previous question will also apply here. What you're looking for is an emetic: a substance that induces vomiting. Your X threshold remains the point at which a dose ...
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51 votes
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How can hornets be engineered to kill a human with a single sting?

Sure why not. There are plenty of toxins out there that are lethal in small amounts. We're already getting pretty good at targeted genetic engineering using techniques such as CRISPR. Given 50 ...
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51 votes

A poison that only works if you know it is there

You are probably looking for a nocebo. The nocebo effect is when a negative expectation of a phenomenon causes it to have a more negative effect than it otherwise would. A nocebo effect causes the ...
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50 votes
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Addictive substance without noticeable effects

Corticosteroids. The body makes cortisol. This hormone is important for immune function, metabolic functions, blood pressure control and other things. If you take synthetic corticosteroid it will ...
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48 votes

What would a corpse of a person who drowned in mercury look like?

If they're actually drowned there will be mercury in the lungs, because drowning, in general, is the inhalation of a liquid (though the term is occasionally used, loosely, for inhalation of heavier-...
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47 votes

Rite of Winter: How to Stop Crescian Couples from Mutual Assassination

Personally I see this as the wrong way around. Courtship isn't about trust. It's about proving yourself. Personally both sides should be trying to quietly kill the other because if the other isn't ...
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44 votes
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What is a fast-acting poison that could be applied to an arrow or dagger?

Poison Dart Frog's "Lipophilic alkaloid toxins" ... is, according to some sources, the group that includes the toxins used by poison dart frogs. They may be able to kill in less than three minutes; ...
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44 votes

Can a substance be more lethal in smaller doses?

There is one possibility: your lethal substance is an ingested poison. With a low dose, it goes into the bloodstream and kills you. In a large dose, it is so harmful your stomach immediately throws it ...
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44 votes
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Rite of Winter: How to Stop Crescian Couples from Mutual Assassination

Renewed poisoning Or another way of saying Mutually Assured Destruction. What the ritual does is both members of the couple personally poison a bottle of wine at the start of the ritual with a secret ...
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38 votes

How can hornets be engineered to kill a human with a single sting?

So two ways I can see. The first is simple selective breeding. Get lots of hornets and sample their venom. Take the ones with the most potent venom and cross breed their lines. In the next ...
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  • 34.4k
36 votes

Can a substance be more lethal in smaller doses?

What you're proposing is certainly possible, although I don't know of a case that demonstrates this exactly. The behavior of biologically active molecules (drugs or toxins) can be very complex (see ...
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34 votes
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What kind of poison can an octopus carry to kill a person via skin contact?

The greater blue ringed octopus already has a potent neurotoxin which can be fatal to humans. The octopus has the poison in its saliva, but it is also held in the skin of the mantle, so touching it is ...
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33 votes

Does anyone know of a poison that can be ingested and is undetectable in autopsy?

Science and autopsies have reached a point in the modern world where poisons are generally detectable. The best poisons are ones that break down into elements that occur naturally: succinylcholine(...
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29 votes

What is a fast-acting poison that could be applied to an arrow or dagger?

Wolf's Bane Apparently used to tip poisoned arrows in China during your time period, fluid from the Aconitum plant, or Wolf's bane, could be nearly instantaneously deadly if used liberally. The ...
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29 votes

How can plants reliably intentionally poison those that eat their fruit?

The Fruit Contains an Opioid There's already a plant compound that is both highly addictive to numerous animal species and kills millions per year. The fruit could be stronger than a typical Opium ...
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27 votes

How can hornets be engineered to kill a human with a single sting?

Researchers notes Abstract: Find way to terrorize people for our dark overlord-to-be. Lest we lose our research grant. So we, and our families, will not be used as test subjects by other researchers....
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27 votes

A two-thresholds poison: how does it work?

One possibility would be a mixture of a poison that binds to a cell receptor and a lower concentration of a non-poison that binds more strongly to the same receptor (i.e. an antagonist with higher ...
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26 votes

Rite of Winter: How to Stop Crescian Couples from Mutual Assassination

One conventional approach would be to exchange hostages. If a member of family A and a member of family B wish to be married, a different member of family A goes to live with family B for the length ...
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25 votes

Can the poison from Kingsmen be concocted?

The big problem here is wavelength. Radiowaves have relatively long wavelengths and are best received by macroscopic metal antennae. On the scale of individual molecules, you simply won't get enough ...
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25 votes

What is my environmental poison?

Ergot Variants: This sounds like some version of ergot poisoning, or possibly a related toxicity from another similar fungus. Ergot caused a wide variety of neurological conditions, and is often cited ...
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24 votes
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What gas can I use to incapacitate pesky heroes?

If you happen to be on a Space Station, you could simply vent the atmosphere. They may have some internal injuries, but they should revive when you pump the air back into the room. The important ...
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23 votes

Question regarding plant based poison for a short story

Invent it. By inventing it you can make it perfect for the story. Presumably this is not a story for biochemists or forensic pathologists, but of interest because of the doings surrounding this boy'...
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23 votes

How can plants reliably intentionally poison those that eat their fruit?

It wouldn't be the first plant to live off of corpses, but usually they find the corpses instead of making them. Here are a few ideas for biological strategies. In addition to animals avoiding it, ...
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22 votes

Need a suitable toxic chemical for a murder plot in my novel

The canonical example is Dimethylmercury Dimethylmercury is an organomercury compound. A highly volatile, reactive, flammable, and colorless liquid, dimethylmercury is one of the strongest known ...
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