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View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Brainstorming potion theory and potions



jjordan
2019-04-19, 12:11 PM
Was watching the Critical Role crew buying potions in Campaign 1 and I found the scene very jarring. "These are potions of moderate cure wounds?" Are we roleplaying or is this a tabletop FPS? So I started mucking about with names and that got me thinking about mechanics. Which brings me to brainstorming here.

I came to the conclusion that potions, in my setting, work by three mechanisms:
-Science/Herbalism
-Magic
-A combination of the two

Science/Herbalist based potions are taking advantage of naturally occurring substances. You can up the efficiency of these substances by extracting/purifying them. The difference is easily illustrated as the difference between drinking a willow-bark infusion and taking a tab of aspirin. Another example would be consuming ma huan/ephedra versus taking a tab/injecton of ephidrine. Caffeine is another example.

Magic based potions serve as a matrix to contain a spell. The liquid/gel of the potion does nothing but hold the spell that is cast. When the potion is consumed the matrix is broken and the spell is released.

Combination potions function as a matrix AND use the herbal effects of the components. The magic might just amplify an effect of the herbs. Or the herbs might function as components of the spell.

Did I need to work any of that theory out? No. I could have just made some stuff up. But now I've got a broad, general framework for building my ideas in and I've got a broad spectrum of possibilities, including non-magic possibilities, to draw on. I don't have to park a magic-using healer in every damn town and I can make skills other than the ability to cast an identify spell useful. I also introduce a degree of uncertainty to the game because players are wondering just how well that potion will work and whether or not they got their money's worth. And by increasing the availability of potions I can avoid having everyone in the party force the cleric into the role of medic.

Some rough ideas:
-Wake the Dead: This is a combination of caffeine and ephidrine (or whatever herbs I choose to call them) which can be orally ingested. Will bring a character back to 1HP and grant 1d8 temporary HP for 5 rounds. At the end of that 5 rounds temp HP go away and player takes a point of exhaustion. Save versus constitution at DC15 or be stunned for 1d4 rounds. If the character's HP are raised above twice their current max HP at any point during these 5 rounds they lose all temp HP granted by this potion and take 1d6 points of poison damage.

This is a basic potion to get characters up and moving again. It's useful because no magic is involved so it can be hanging around a bunch of places. I can monkey with it in a lot of ways:
-Vary the strength
-Magically enhance it
-Remove some side effects (Grothar in Grendorf makes the *BEST* stuff, man)
-Add some side effects (Can you get addicted to this?)

-The Goddesses Blessing: This potion is non-magical. It is a combination of several herbs that relax muscles, ease pain, and promote a sense of well-being (downer ecstasy). It is used by servants of the Goddess X, when possible, to prepare patients to best receive the blessing of the Goddess. It magnifies healing spells cast by her clerics by a factor of 1d4 up to 10 temp HP above max (this effect will last for 12 hours). Patients save at advantage versus being frightened for 1d12 rounds but may not rage.

Again there's a lot of room for playing with this. Hallucinations spring to mind.

-Costrel of Health: This is a magic item, not a potion, but it makes potions. This 8oz silver costrel (look it up) must be filled with wine and the blood of a willing donor. The donor takes 1d4 damage. Whoever drinks from the vial receives 1d4 of HP for every point of damage the donor took. Poisoned blood will not activate the magic. The liquid loses its effect after 1 round if it is poured out of the bottle. The donor cannot consume the potion.

A handy little post-battle mechanism with some roleplay opportunities built in.

Garfunion
2019-04-19, 12:35 PM
Are you planning on restricting your players from using “healing” spells, healer’s kit/healing feat, “healing classes/archetypes or currently available non-homebrew potions?

Because what I’m seeing so far is, your potions have more negatives than positives.

jjordan
2019-04-19, 12:46 PM
Are you planning on restricting your players from using “healing” spells, healer’s kit/healing feat, “healing classes/archetypes or currently available non-homebrew potions?

Because what I’m seeing so far is, your potions have more negatives than positives.Nope, nope, nope, maybe. I know most folks are interested in getting the players back on their feet and into the next fight as soon as possible but I prefer a slower healing and lingering wounds scenario to encourage players to ask if this fight is really worth it. That ups the demand for magical/quickened healing and not every cleric wants to be band-aid guy.

Garfunion
2019-04-19, 01:07 PM
Nope, nope, nope, maybe. I know most folks are interested in getting the players back on their feet and into the next fight as soon as possible but I prefer a slower healing and lingering wounds scenario to encourage players to ask if this fight is really worth it. That ups the demand for magical/quickened healing and not every cleric wants to be band-aid guy.
I understand that but, why would I not just buy/use a healing potion? Wake the dead potion seem overly complicated with some severe negatives.

Now if Wake the Dead potion was quick, easy, and cheap to make(one hour) using herbalist kit/alchemy kit and only gave the creature 1hp and 1d4 Thp (and that is all it did). I would be fine using it.

sheenarustomji
2019-04-19, 01:32 PM
Potions are badly underused in fanfic, and a lot of the potions we see in canon are pretty obscure in terms of use. How often in life do you need to put someone in a sleep so powerful they resemble a dead person?

So, I thought we could brainstorm other, more useful, potions that they might teach at Hogwarts. The kind of stuff that would be useful to make in day to day life.

I can see several groups they might fit into, presented here with some examples:

Cosmetic
Salve to remove acne
Hair-growth potion
Teeth-whitening potion

Situational
Potion to keep you warm
Potion to purify water
Potion to breathe underwater

Medical
Pepper-Up potion (cures the common cold)
Sleeping potion
Wakefulness potion
Sobering potion
Contraceptive potion
Period-suspension potion

Mental
Recall potion
Calming potion

Sensory
Farsight potion
Auditory supersenory draught

Recreation
Zero-gravity potion
Hallucination potion

Transformation
Polyjuice
Aging potion
Growth potion

Poisons and antidotes

Garfunion
2019-04-19, 01:59 PM
Potions are badly underused in fanfic, and a lot of the potions we see in canon are pretty obscure in terms of use. How often in life do you need to put someone in a sleep so powerful they resemble a dead person?

So, I thought we could brainstorm other, more useful, potions that they might teach at Hogwarts. The kind of stuff that would be useful to make in day to day life.

I can see several groups they might fit into, presented here with some examples:

Cosmetic
Salve to remove acne
Hair-growth potion
Teeth-whitening potion

Situational
Potion to keep you warm
Potion to purify water
Potion to breathe underwater

Medical
Pepper-Up potion (cures the common cold)
Sleeping potion
Wakefulness potion
Sobering potion
Contraceptive potion
Period-suspension potion

Mental
Recall potion
Calming potion

Sensory
Farsight potion
Auditory supersenory draught

Recreation
Zero-gravity potion
Hallucination potion

Transformation
Polyjuice
Aging potion
Growth potion

Poisons and antidotes
I am all for this but, unless you plan on restricting spellcasting in some way. The players may end up having more resources then they should throw out an adventuring day.

Grek
2019-04-19, 03:00 PM
Have some alchemy notes from a setting I abandoned a while back:

All of the lunar substances can only be prepared under the light of a full moon and revert to their original forms when the next full moon rises.

Moonwater is a clear liquid produced from water. It glows with a constant brightness of 300 lumens per liter but boils from the warmth of its own glow if stored in large volumes, producing faintly luminous steam. Moonwater imbibed while fresh allows the drinker to see that which is invisble to others.

Moonwax is a milky liquid produced from cream, oil or fat. When burned, the light functions as a combination antiseptic and contraceptive, while the soot functions as a potent fertilizer in plants and animals alike. It can be used directly, but is more commonly made into candles.

Moonwine is produced from alcohol and is an imbibed general anesthetic with no effect on consciousness - drinkers go numb but do not pass out. The distilled form, moonspirits, are faster acting and longer lasting. Despite the name, any form of alcohol can be used and will produce the same results.

Moonsalt is produced from brine and takes the form of glassy black crystals which precipitate from the moonwater. Moonsalt burns with a silver, smokeless flame of great heat which consumes no fuel and is extinguished by direct sunlight. Moonsalt is a potent and addictive narcotic if ingested.

Moonfumes are produced from ammonia and is a liquid with a pungent vapour. These fumes permit lunar spirits to possess the inhaler briefly, while drinking them permits possession until the next full moon. Lunar spirits are skilled in a variety of matters, but have their own ideas about what your body should be used to do.

Sovereign Venom is produced by forcing venomous animals - a wasp, a spider, a centipede, a scorpion, a snake, a toad, a fish and a bat - to kill and consume one another, tournament style. The victor will be suffused with sovereign venom, which causes instant death to all it touches. Creatures slain by sovereign venom do not decay. Each battle must take place under the new moon and must allow one month of recovery for each creature, meaning that the entire process takes a minimum of three months to complete. All of the sovereign animals produce sovereign venom, which can be milked using the usual method. If you feed a sovereign beast to a regular beast and it somehow survives, it becomes a sovereign beast itself. If azoth is applied to a sovereign beast, the beast loses its venom but is augmented in every physical respect.

Once you have a sovereign beast of a given type, you may hatch more examples of the same from wind eggs - the small egg produced by a bird's first laying. Using a full egg will instead produce a cockatrice in the shape of the bird from which the wind egg came. Not only is the cockatrice itself venomous, the sight of the creature is toxic as well. The song of the creature is hypnotic and unforgettable, a fact which the vile beast uses to lure in prey. The cockatrice is, by most accounts, thankfully sterile. Applying azoth to a cockatrice in sufficient volume creates a carbuncle - a bird which is as full of antivenom as the cockatrice is full of poison.

Alkahest is produced by transmuting sovereign venom with moonlight. Just as toxic as its precursor, alkahest has the additional property of breaking down any substance it comes into contact with (including flesh) into the elements from which it is made, with heavier elements sinking to the bottom and lighter ones rising to the top. Like all lunar substances, alkahest reverts into its original form with the coming of the full moon.

Azoth and Carmot are produced through the same process: Dissolving lightning in alkahest, generally through the use of a lightning rod. If successful, the alkahest is transmuted into a viscous red liquid - Azoth - while a reddish gold metal - Carmot - precipitates out as a single oval of metal. Azoth is a potent medicine and restores all living things to the peak of health. It will transmute any mundane poison into an equal volume of antidote and transmute sovereign venom into more azoth. Carmot confers agelessness and incorruptibility upon that which touches it, preventing decay, fermentation, combustion, and (notably) the fading of lunar transmutations. Each oval of carmot is in fact a phoenix's egg, which can be fertilized using moondust and hatched by a cockatrice or carbuncle.

If flesh or blood is added to azoth, a homunculus will form - a clone of the donor. Due to the rarity of azoth, most of these are miniature copies. However, if enough azoth were created to submerge the entire original, the resulting homunculus will be a perfect phyiscal copy. This works on any form of life, including plants. Mixing samples from multiple donors is ill-advised, as this will result in chimera or mandragora.

John Out West
2019-04-19, 06:19 PM
I've probably mentioned this before, but i'm actually pretty close to releasing a new book all about crafts like alchemy and herbalism. I completely agree with the original statement that the buying process (In Critical Role) was boring and uninspired, which led me to start a system that actually accounts for what goes into each alchemical formula. I was also annoyed when they (CR Cast) became monster hunters, got crazy mythical ingredients like Dragon Hearts and Rakshasa Claws, but didn't actually learn what they were for. (I was also annoyed in the Mighty Nein, when Mercer refused to let Jester become a herbalist because there was no good system out there, which is why i made one of those too)

In my potion theory (Krillo's Guide) you take super rare things (Like Dragon's Lungs or Hydra Heads) and combine them with Mundane/Commonplace things (Like wood and metal) to make potions. I think its pretty simple and elegent. So now when you're out adventuring and you kill a giant spider, you know you should take the Venom Sack, its heart, its teeth, etc, because it will probably have some alchemical use.


https://westboundgame.com/x/cdn/?https://storage.googleapis.com/wzukusers/user-28883749/images/b476783d9bb0486e9733108753d1be03/page2.jpg

Heres a link to the illustrated Alchemy section. (https://storage.googleapis.com/wzukusers/user-28883749/documents/8a00d2977ec74b5d8563d88acdc36e90/Alchemy.pdf) (Its free, about to be free on Drivethrurpg too) I would love your thoughts on it, and hope it can inspire you with your system. Its about two pages of rules, and then about 13 of potion examples and illustrations. Its based on my game Westbound and transmoged to 5e, which is why everything has only one level. (No minor or major potions, just potions)

There's some pretty cool ideas in there. The Dreamcatcher might be my favorite, as you can use it to catch dreams, nightmares, or daydreams and turn them into Alchemical Candles.

jjordan
2019-04-19, 08:53 PM
I understand that but, why would I not just buy/use a healing potion? Wake the dead potion seem overly complicated with some severe negatives.

Now if Wake the Dead potion was quick, easy, and cheap to make(one hour) using herbalist kit/alchemy kit and only gave the creature 1hp and 1d4 Thp (and that is all it did). I would be fine using it.Just buying a healing potion is... boring to me. I like having alternatives and I like for them to be other than simple. I make things too complicated, admittedly, and need to keep it simpler.

sandmote
2019-04-19, 09:54 PM
After initially reading this, the only thing coming to me is that you could send the party to a different part of the world, and make them take potions to protect themselves from diseases common to that part of the world (basically replacing vaccines with potions) to make it feel more distant.

Beside that, I sometimes let the party buy potions instead of scrolls so they don't need spellcasting to use them. If no one in the party can cast Comprehend languages, giving them a limited supply of Potions of Comprehend Languages puts some pressure on negotiations instead of preventing/allowing them by DM fiat. Or give the one human some Darkvision Potions.

Alternatively, you can give them potions of high level spells as a contingency. I haven't had the chance to try out giving a low level party a Word of Recall Potion as a backup on a dangerous mission, but that was the original idea.

jjordan
2019-04-20, 09:00 AM
Have some alchemy notes from a setting I abandoned a while back:

All of the lunar substances can only be prepared under the light of a full moon and revert to their original forms when the next full moon rises.

Moonwater is a clear liquid produced from water. It glows with a constant brightness of 300 lumens per liter but boils from the warmth of its own glow if stored in large volumes, producing faintly luminous steam. Moonwater imbibed while fresh allows the drinker to see that which is invisble to others.

Moonwax is a milky liquid produced from cream, oil or fat. When burned, the light functions as a combination antiseptic and contraceptive, while the soot functions as a potent fertilizer in plants and animals alike. It can be used directly, but is more commonly made into candles.

Moonwine is produced from alcohol and is an imbibed general anesthetic with no effect on consciousness - drinkers go numb but do not pass out. The distilled form, moonspirits, are faster acting and longer lasting. Despite the name, any form of alcohol can be used and will produce the same results.

Moonsalt is produced from brine and takes the form of glassy black crystals which precipitate from the moonwater. Moonsalt burns with a silver, smokeless flame of great heat which consumes no fuel and is extinguished by direct sunlight. Moonsalt is a potent and addictive narcotic if ingested.

Moonfumes are produced from ammonia and is a liquid with a pungent vapour. These fumes permit lunar spirits to possess the inhaler briefly, while drinking them permits possession until the next full moon. Lunar spirits are skilled in a variety of matters, but have their own ideas about what your body should be used to do.

Sovereign Venom is produced by forcing venomous animals - a wasp, a spider, a centipede, a scorpion, a snake, a toad, a fish and a bat - to kill and consume one another, tournament style. The victor will be suffused with sovereign venom, which causes instant death to all it touches. Creatures slain by sovereign venom do not decay. Each battle must take place under the new moon and must allow one month of recovery for each creature, meaning that the entire process takes a minimum of three months to complete. All of the sovereign animals produce sovereign venom, which can be milked using the usual method. If you feed a sovereign beast to a regular beast and it somehow survives, it becomes a sovereign beast itself. If azoth is applied to a sovereign beast, the beast loses its venom but is augmented in every physical respect.

Once you have a sovereign beast of a given type, you may hatch more examples of the same from wind eggs - the small egg produced by a bird's first laying. Using a full egg will instead produce a cockatrice in the shape of the bird from which the wind egg came. Not only is the cockatrice itself venomous, the sight of the creature is toxic as well. The song of the creature is hypnotic and unforgettable, a fact which the vile beast uses to lure in prey. The cockatrice is, by most accounts, thankfully sterile. Applying azoth to a cockatrice in sufficient volume creates a carbuncle - a bird which is as full of antivenom as the cockatrice is full of poison.

Alkahest is produced by transmuting sovereign venom with moonlight. Just as toxic as its precursor, alkahest has the additional property of breaking down any substance it comes into contact with (including flesh) into the elements from which it is made, with heavier elements sinking to the bottom and lighter ones rising to the top. Like all lunar substances, alkahest reverts into its original form with the coming of the full moon.

Azoth and Carmot are produced through the same process: Dissolving lightning in alkahest, generally through the use of a lightning rod. If successful, the alkahest is transmuted into a viscous red liquid - Azoth - while a reddish gold metal - Carmot - precipitates out as a single oval of metal. Azoth is a potent medicine and restores all living things to the peak of health. It will transmute any mundane poison into an equal volume of antidote and transmute sovereign venom into more azoth. Carmot confers agelessness and incorruptibility upon that which touches it, preventing decay, fermentation, combustion, and (notably) the fading of lunar transmutations. Each oval of carmot is in fact a phoenix's egg, which can be fertilized using moondust and hatched by a cockatrice or carbuncle.

If flesh or blood is added to azoth, a homunculus will form - a clone of the donor. Due to the rarity of azoth, most of these are miniature copies. However, if enough azoth were created to submerge the entire original, the resulting homunculus will be a perfect phyiscal copy. This works on any form of life, including plants. Mixing samples from multiple donors is ill-advised, as this will result in chimera or mandragora.

I like the medieval and magical flavor you've created there. Cool stuff.

jjordan
2019-04-20, 09:01 AM
I've probably mentioned this before, but i'm actually pretty close to releasing a new book all about crafts like alchemy and herbalism. I completely agree with the original statement that the buying process (In Critical Role) was boring and uninspired, which led me to start a system that actually accounts for what goes into each alchemical formula. I was also annoyed when they (CR Cast) became monster hunters, got crazy mythical ingredients like Dragon Hearts and Rakshasa Claws, but didn't actually learn what they were for. (I was also annoyed in the Mighty Nein, when Mercer refused to let Jester become a herbalist because there was no good system out there, which is why i made one of those too)

In my potion theory (Krillo's Guide) you take super rare things (Like Dragon's Lungs or Hydra Heads) and combine them with Mundane/Commonplace things (Like wood and metal) to make potions. I think its pretty simple and elegent. So now when you're out adventuring and you kill a giant spider, you know you should take the Venom Sack, its heart, its teeth, etc, because it will probably have some alchemical use.


https://westboundgame.com/x/cdn/?https://storage.googleapis.com/wzukusers/user-28883749/images/b476783d9bb0486e9733108753d1be03/page2.jpg

Heres a link to the illustrated Alchemy section. (https://storage.googleapis.com/wzukusers/user-28883749/documents/8a00d2977ec74b5d8563d88acdc36e90/Alchemy.pdf) (Its free, about to be free on Drivethrurpg too) I would love your thoughts on it, and hope it can inspire you with your system. Its about two pages of rules, and then about 13 of potion examples and illustrations. Its based on my game Westbound and transmoged to 5e, which is why everything has only one level. (No minor or major potions, just potions)

There's some pretty cool ideas in there. The Dreamcatcher might be my favorite, as you can use it to catch dreams, nightmares, or daydreams and turn them into Alchemical Candles.

Very interesting. I'm still reading this. You put a lot of work in.

jjordan
2019-04-20, 09:07 AM
Potions are badly underused in fanfic, and a lot of the potions we see in canon are pretty obscure in terms of use. How often in life do you need to put someone in a sleep so powerful they resemble a dead person?

So, I thought we could brainstorm other, more useful, potions that they might teach at Hogwarts. The kind of stuff that would be useful to make in day to day life.

I can see several groups they might fit into, presented here with some examples:

Cosmetic
Salve to remove acne
Hair-growth potion
Teeth-whitening potion

Situational
Potion to keep you warm
Potion to purify water
Potion to breathe underwater

Medical
Pepper-Up potion (cures the common cold)
Sleeping potion
Wakefulness potion
Sobering potion
Contraceptive potion
Period-suspension potion

Mental
Recall potion
Calming potion

Sensory
Farsight potion
Auditory supersenory draught

Recreation
Zero-gravity potion
Hallucination potion

Transformation
Polyjuice
Aging potion
Growth potion

Poisons and antidotes

Nice seed. The transformation potions make me think about how to control availability with ingredient rarity/complexity. For my setting I'll want some sort of guidelines so I can avoid having powerful potions become too common and they can roughly accord with the common-rare guidelines in the DMG.