For a list of potions appearing in Dungeons & Dragons, see Category:Potions.

A potion is a liquid which bestows some magical effect on the person who drinks it. A potion is typically a single-use magic item. A great variety of potions are available with different effects.

Other terms for imbibable magical liquids, such as draught, elixir or philter, are functionally synonymous with "potion". An oil is a potion rubbed on the skin rather than quaffed.

Appearance[edit | edit source]

A potion is typically stored in a small container, such as a stoppered vial or flask commonly made of glass, metal, ceramic or crystal.[1] One potion typically contains a single ounce of liquid, enough for a single dose.[2] However, a large flask may contain multiple doses.[3]

Potions discovered by adventurers are rarely labeled, and their effect must be determined through trial and error, or else by magic such as an identify spell.

While the exact appearance of each potion is often consistent with others of the same effect, this is not always the case. The same potion effect may be derived from different sources or ingredients, which would affect how the potion looks, tastes and smells.[1]

Properties[edit | edit source]

Use[edit | edit source]

A potion is activated when someone drinks it, which causes the potion's effect to take place upon the creature immediately. Drinking a potion is often referred to as "quaffing" or "imbibing". A potion can also be administered to another character, such as giving a healing potion to an unconscious ally.[4]

A potion usually contains just enough for one effective dose of the effect. Once used, the potion is consumed. The duration of a potion varies based on its effect.

Drinking a small sip of a potion can give a clue as to the effect of a potion.[1][2]

Powers[edit | edit source]

Full list: Category:Potions

Numerous different potion effects exist, many of which replicate the effects of known spells.

Drawbacks[edit | edit source]

Some potions have negative effects. An example is the potion of delusion, which causes the imbiber to incorrectly believe they have received a beneficial effect.

Mixing potions[edit | edit source]

Mixing two potions can lead to unpredictable effects. In most cases, both potions continue to work normally. However, the potions may interfere with each other's effect, with one or more effects weakened or nullified. They may even poison the drinker.

In some cases, the effects of one of the potions are extended in duration, rarely making the effect permanent. The potions may also explode.[5]

Creation[edit | edit source]

Potions are made or acquired from a great variety of sources.[4]

Some are brewed from enchanted herbs using specific methods, while others are simply collected from naturally-occurring springs or magic fountains.[4]

Talented wizards may brew potions.Men & Magic (1974), p.6 Some common potions such as the potion of healing are widely available and relatively inexpensive, and can be brewed by an alchemist or herbalist.

Related items[edit | edit source]

An oil is like a potion, but is rubbed on the skin rather than quaffed. It is sometimes considered to be a type of potion.

Publication history[edit | edit source]

Original D&D[edit | edit source]

The potion of healing and potion of giant strength appear in Men & Magic (1974), p.7.

Greyhawk (Supplement 1) (1975) featured 30 potions, introducing such staples as the potion of flying, potion of invisibility and oil of etherealness. Blackmoor (Supplement 2) (1975) introduced the clearwater potion and potion of water breathing.

Basic D&D[edit | edit source]

AD&D 1st edition[edit | edit source]

Rules for potions appear in the Dungeon Masters Guide (1e) (1979), p.125-127.

AD&D 2nd edition[edit | edit source]

D&D 3rd edition[edit | edit source]

D&D 4th edition[edit | edit source]

D&D 5th edition[edit | edit source]

Potions appear in the Dungeon Master's Guide (5e) (2014).

Creative origins[edit | edit source]

Magical potions, or drinks which contain magical effects, appear in various works of folklore which pre-date Dungeons & Dragons.

Reception and influence[edit | edit source]

Like many Dungeons & Dragons game elements, the appearance of potions in the game has inspired many other tabletop roleplaying games and computer roleplaying games to include similar effects.

The roguelike NetHack includes elaborate mechanics for diluting a potion and mixing potions. Each potion type can be identified by its own color, but potion colors are randomized at the start of each game, preventing players from carrying potion identifications as metagame knowledge into subsequent playthroughs of the game.

References[edit | edit source]

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