D&D 5E Potions in your game

jgsugden

Legend
I'm curious how potions occur in your games. In my games:

Drinking Potions: It is a bonus action for you to drink a potion and a (full) action for you to give it to someone else. You can hand it to someone else with a 'Interact with Object'.

Frequency Found: In my games, I average 1 potion per encounter. They tend to be congregated in enemies that can use them - and if they have a reason to use them they will. Though the average is 1 potion per combat, they are only found in about 1 in 3 of combats. So, they tend to be found in groups when found.

Random Tables: I use the same random table for potions throughout a campaign. Whether you're first or 20th level, my random table is the same, so you could find a legendary potion that grants a wish or raises an attribute in your first encounter... but it is highly unlikely. You're far more likely to have the wild Sorcerer tpk the group with a fireball mishap.

20% - Healing Potion (1 in 5)
18% - Lesser Common Potion (there are 5 of them, so 3.6% chance of each - 1 in 30)
18% - Greater Common Potion (there are 11 of them, so 1.64% chance of each - 1 in 60)
10% - Greater Healing Potion (1 in 10)
10% - Lesser Uncommon Potion (there are 14 of them, so 0.71% chance of each- 1 in 140 )
10% - Greater Uncommon Potion (there are 25 of them, so 0.40% chance of each -1 in 250)
3% - Superior Healing Potion (1 in 33)
3% - Lesser Rare Potion (there are 16 of them, so 0.19% chance of each - 1 in 525)
3% - Greater Rare potion (there are 24 of them, so 0.13% chance of each - 1 in 770)
1% - Supreme Healing Potion (1 in 100)
3% - Very Rare Potion (there are 31 of them, so 0.10% chance of each - 1 in 1000)
1% - Legendary Potion (there are 19 of them, so 0.05% chance of each - 1 in 2000)

34% of potions are healing. 66% are 'other potions'.

A campaign usually has about 12 or 13 encounters per level on average over 20 levels ... so 250 or so encounters. With that many encounters, PCs find roughly:

50 Healing Potions
25 Greater Healing Potions
9 of each of the 5 most common 'other potions'
8 Superior Healing Potions
4 of each of the 11 remaining most common 'other potions'
2 Supreme Healing Potions
1 or 2 of the 14 most common uncommon 'other potions'
1 of each of the 25 remaining uncommon 'other potions'
Half of the 16 most common rare 'other potions'
A third of the remaining 24 rare 'other potions'
A quarter of the 31 very rare 'other potions'
An eighth of the 19 legendary 'other potions'

Do othe DMs have their own potion system? I have a similar system for scrolls and other 1 use items, but it is more convoluted.
 

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Oofta

Legend
I've started allowing healing potions as a bonus action with rolling for effect. If you take a full action, the potion is maxed out. So if you drink that healing potion as a bonus action it heals 2d4+2, take a full action it's 10. Giving a healing potion to anyone else still takes an action and you roll for effect.

Beyond that, potions are still an action and people rarely use them. I don't hand out all that many items, I do more reward with gold and have a curated magic mart. Most potions are available for purchase, but most people do not buy them.

Seems like some potions could make things swingier, which would just make combats more difficult to balance so there's not a lot of upside for me as DM. So I never felt the need to encourage more potion use, although I'd be open to discussing it if anyone asked about it.
 

Weiley31

Legend
The ONLY thing that I have down with potions, aside from the Bonus Action to use/Full Action to apply to others, is how they taste.

So, Healing Potions in my games taste like the various flavors of Mountain Dew. (And if I need to stick to specific flavors, then we go with Code Red, Voltage, Baja Blast, and Dark Berry Bash).
 

jgsugden

Legend
The ONLY thing that I have down with potions, aside from the Bonus Action to use/Full Action to apply to others, is how they taste.

So, Healing Potions in my games taste like the various flavors of Mountain Dew. (And if I need to stick to specific flavors, then we go with Code Red, Voltage, Baja Blast, and Dark Berry Bash).
For each potion I have a description with the color, thickness, flavor and any other characteristics (temperature, etc...)

None of them are flavored like Mountain Dew.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
For my games:

Drinking Potions: depends on its location. Usually you would have to use your free object interaction to get the pouch in hand (from a pouch or backpack) and then your action to open it and drink it. IF for some reason you already have the potion in hand, you can use your free object interaction to open and drink it.

Frequency Found: Uncommon to very rare. Other than healing potions, most potion don't find their way into my game a lot, but magic items in general are less frequent in my games than in others as I understand it.
 

My games have tended to be magical enough to allow for purchasing of uncommon potions. Healing potions are by far the most used followed by potions of resistance. Anything after that is a rare find in a treasure hoard unless someone is dabbling in alchemy.
 


DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I've often wondered if anyone out there is still using "potion miscibility".
Oh, I do... the variant is in the DMG p. 140 for anyone whose interested and overlooked it:

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aco175

Legend
I tend to give out more potions in early levels where I want the PCs to use them when they do not have many magic items. Does not mean that they use them as I find players tend to hoard magic until they absolutely need to use them. I think most of the potions tend to be healing, 75%ish.

I play with drinking a potion is a bonus action to roll for healing and if you use your action it is full hp, I would like to add more potions to this like drinking a potion of invisibility as a bonus action lasts only for 1d4 rounds instead of 1 hour.
 

Beyond that, potions are still an action and people rarely use them.
a few campaigns ago I made potions much more powerful and plentiful... and players still just hoarded them for between combat healing.

and by more powerful I mean the base healing potion was doing 2d6+5+your con mod, and you could spend a HD... and they got more powerful from there. I had one that would heal 5d10+20+your level and you could spend up to 2 HD and not once was it drank in a fight... not once.
 

Bitbrain

ORC (Open RPG) horde ally
In my games potions are spells in liquid form. If the spell requires your action (or bonus action) to cast, then drinking the potion requires the same to duplicate the desired spell effect.
healing word and intellect fortress potions have proven quite popular with my players.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I use the RAW for potions in my 5e campaign. Generally, potions do not get much use mid-combat. They are mostly used when players know they are going into a combat situation and have time to plan for it, in which case they use potions to buff up.
 

For our next campaign, we’re thinking about:

If a potion is already in hand before your turn starts, it can be consumed with a bonus action. Otherwise it requires an action.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I've often wondered if anyone out there is still using "potion miscibility".
I do, and I recorded the results to apply them again in the future - which was problematic as when a favorable one (00) was found there were attempts to recreate the result. To that end, I dropped the consistency.

Side note: I think in the next version of D&D the healing potions will let PCs spend hit dice to heal. The type of potion will limit how many dice can be spent. Just a theory.
 
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BookTenTiger

He / Him
I like to give out potions that are specifically useful for that dungeon or location. So, for example, I might have a potion that restores ability scores if I know the characters will be facing intellect devourers. Or a potion of flight if there's going to be a battle with a lot of verticality.

Drinking a potion is a bonus action. I tell the characters what kind of potion they found right away.

My goal is for those potions to be used, not hoarded!
 

jgsugden

Legend
...My goal is for those potions to be used, not hoarded!
One DM pulled a trick out of her hat that I stole to encourage PCs to use potions. In the first encounter the group found three potions. She told us that all three were red liquids, and two glimmered when agitated. The third did not, but seemed thicker and had black crud at the bottom. The first two were healing potions (and were used first) and the third, when opened, smelled like it was spoiled. The player threw it away rather than drink it. From then on, the group kept on worrying about how long before their potions expired and tended to use them quickly.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
One DM pulled a trick out of her hat that I stole to encourage PCs to use potions. In the first encounter the group found three potions. She told us that all three were red liquids, and two glimmered when agitated. The third did not, but seemed thicker and had black crud at the bottom. The first two were healing potions (and were used first) and the third, when opened, smelled like it was spoiled. The player threw it away rather than drink it. From then on, the group kept on worrying about how long before their potions expired and tended to use them quickly.
I like the flavor of that and if the flavor description is sufficient, great! But I can't imagine having to add tracking potion expiration dates to my DM duties. Even less, I don't see any of my players being thrilled about having to do the extra bookkeeping either.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I like the flavor of that and if the flavor description is sufficient, great! But I can't imagine having to add tracking potion expiration dates to my DM duties. Even less, I don't see any of my players being thrilled about having to do the extra bookkeeping either.
I actually hand out small vials filled with liquid when I give a PC a potion.


Each potion has a tiny number hidden on it so that I know exactly which potion they are using. That makes it easy to track things like expiration if I want to do so ...

I also hand out chips for coins (although I make change - if they get 1000 copper I give them the 1 platinum chip) and toy gemstones.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
I actually hand out small vials filled with liquid when I give a PC a potion.


Each potion has a tiny number hidden on it so that I know exactly which potion they are using. That makes it easy to track things like expiration if I want to do so ...

I also hand out chips for coins (although I make change - if they get 1000 copper I give them the 1 platinum chip) and toy gemstones.
That's fun. When I still ran games in person, we used cards for items and coins and toothpicks for ammunition (arrows, bolts).

It would be cool if there a community mod for foundry that would let you assign expiration dates to items. But that also requires more assiduous tracking of time in game. I would like to gamify it and make it more abstract. Another way I could see handling this would be at the end of each combat there would be a percent chance of a potion getting broken, or shaken too much and going bad.

In practice, my players and I are lazy and would rather focus on other aspects of the game than resource tracking. Generally I like to be stricter with resource management at lower levels and as characters level up and have more ways to address resource challenges, we just stop tracking things like ammo, rations, and encumbrance.
 

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