Last Updated on December 14, 2021
The herbalism kit is one of D&D’s most versatile and useful tool sets. It’s a great option for power-gamers hoping to provide invaluable health potions to their party.
It can also make an excellent roleplay tool for characters centered around nature and outdoor survival. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the herbalism kit for both players and DMs.
What Does the Herbalism Kit Contain?
The herbalism kit includes:
- Pouches to store herbs
- Clippers and leather gloves
- A pestle and mortar
- Several glass jars
Often during character creation, players write a tool set on their equipment list without considering what it contains.
It’s useful to understand what items are included in a herbalism kit so you can more easily find improvised uses for those components.
For example, the clippers allow you to collect plants, but they could also be used to cut through a rope.
Knowing the components of your herbalism kit can also be useful in roleplaying. It gives you a more tangible sense of what you’re physically doing when you collect herbs or mix potions.
Instead of simply saying that you collect some herbs, you can describe how you put on your gloves, rummage in your bag for your clippers, and then carefully cut away the exact parts of the plant that you need.
What Can I Use the Herbalism Kit For?
There are several predefined uses for the herbalism kit in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, which we’ll cover here. You shouldn’t let your imagination be constrained by these uses, but they’re a useful starting point.
Bonuses to Skill Checks
Proficiency with the herbalism kit means you’re highly knowledgeable about plants and their uses.
In situations where your knowledge of herbalism is relevant, you’re able to gain bonuses to skill checks and learn additional information that specifically relates to herbalism.
This is especially true when you make skill checks using arcana, investigation, nature, and survival. Your herbalism knowledge allows you to more easily identify magical plants and potions using arcana.
When investigating a heavily overgrown area, you’re more likely to notice anomalies in and among the plant matter.
You can also more easily identify plants and food sources when traveling in the wild using nature and survival respectively.
You can more effectively treat illnesses and injuries using medicinal plants. This applies in situations where you use the medicine skill.
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything isn’t clear regarding exactly what bonuses this gives you. Some DMs may allow you to heal your companions for a couple of hit points instead of just stabilizing them at 0hp.
Some DMs may rule that you gain a bonus to the initial medicine check but that a success yields the same result.
Finding, Identifying, and Collecting Plants
If you’re in the wilds, you’re able to find specific plants that would reasonably be present with a suggested DC 15 skill check.
You can identify what properties a plant has and what its possible uses are. You’re also able to collect and store plant matter using your herbalism kit.
You can identify poisons with a suggested DC 20 skill check. This may vary based on the poison and may only apply to poisons where knowledge of herbalism would be relevant.
You can also use your herbalism kit to craft potions and poultices in periods of extended downtime between adventures.
These can be magical or mundane, although crafting potions with magical effects is more complicated.
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything also provides special rules for crafting health potions, allowing them to be crafted more cheaply and easily than other potions.
Crafting mundane items is simple. You need:
- Access to any relevant alchemical equipment.
- Raw materials worth half of the item’s value.
- A number of workweeks equal to 1/50 of the item’s gold value.
You can use this to craft useful adventuring supplies like antitoxin, which grants advantage on saving throws against poison.
Crafting Magical Potions
Brewing up magical potions is the most exciting thing you can do with the herbalism kit.
There are tons of amazing potions to craft in D&D, and these items’ consumable nature means they often have much more powerful and dramatic effects than other magic items of the same rarity.
To craft a magical potion, you need:
- A recipe. You might acquire this naturally in the course of adventuring. If you want to expedite this or if you’re looking for a specific recipe, then the library may be a good place to begin your search.
- Access to any required equipment. This might include a set of scales for weighing ingredients or a cauldron for mixing your potion. You might also need more specialist alchemical equipment like a retort or a crucible.
- Raw materials worth a specific value based on the rarity of the potion you’re trying to craft. These ingredients are things you can buy in most towns and cities.
- An exotic ingredient. You’ll need to go on an adventure to acquire this ingredient. The adventure should be thematically linked to the potion you’re attempting to craft and the CR of the encounter you face should correspond to the potion’s rarity.
- Time. Each rarity of potion requires a set length of downtime to craft.
|Potion Rarity||CR of encounter for exotic ingredient||Cost of raw materials||Time required to craft the potion|
|Common||1-3||25 gp||0.5 workweeks|
|Uncommon||4-8||100 gp||1 workweek|
|Rare||9-12||1,000 gp||5 workweeks|
|Very Rare||13-18||10,000 gp||12.5 workweeks|
|Legendary||19+||50,000 gp||25 workweeks|
There are tons of great potions you can craft in officially published books.
This includes some incredibly powerful options like Potion of Speed, which increases your move speed and AC and allows you to take two actions per turn for a limited time.
Many DMs are also more willing to allow homebrew potions because their temporary nature means they’re less likely to permanently unbalance the game.
Crafting Health Potions
There are specific rules in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything for crafting health potions. Unlike other magical potions, these don’t require a recipe or an exotic ingredient.
To create potions of healing, you need raw materials worth a certain value and a specified length of time depending on the type of health potion you’re attempting to craft.
|Potion||Healed HP||Downtime Required||Value of Raw Materials|
|Potion of Healing||2d4+2||1 day||25gp|
|Potion of Greater Healing||4d4+4||1 week||100gp|
|Potion of Superior Healing||8d4+8||3 weeks||1,000gp|
|Potion of Supreme Healing||10d4+20||4 weeks||10,000gp|
Health potions are likely to be in high demand, so it’s a good idea to be familiar with the rules for crafting them.
How Do I Get an Herbalism Kit and Proficiency With It?
You’re most likely to gain tool proficiencies in character creation. They can be granted by your class, race, or background. Druids notably gain proficiency with the herbalism kit at level 1.
If you’re not playing a druid, you’re most likely to gain proficiency with the herbalism kit through your background.
Characters from any walk of life can do this – page 125 of the Player’s Handbook has rules for tailoring your character’s background to your needs.
You can also use your downtime to train proficiency with tools, including the herbalism kit. This requires access to an instructor. In the case of the herbalism kit, this instructor might be a local druid or witch.
Training takes a number of workweeks equal to 10 minus your intelligence modifier, and your instructor requires payment of 25gp per workweek.
Acquiring the herbalism kit itself should be relatively simple.
All its components are common items that most small towns and villages will have access to, so you should be able to put together an herbalism kit from items found at any general store.
Should I Choose the Herbalism Kit Over Other Tool Sets?
The herbalism kit is a great choice of tool set because potion-crafting has such enormous utility. Potions give you a big power-spike when you really need one and can be immensely useful for tough fights.
The value of health potions also can’t be overstated. You can give out health potions to your party members, allowing them to save themselves when they’re downed.
That said, there are diminishing returns if multiple characters in the party have proficiency with the herbalism kit. If you already have a party member who can craft potions, you should consider taking proficiency with a different tool set.
There’s also a lot of overlap in usage between a herbalism kit and alchemical supplies.
Alchemist’s supplies can be used to craft many of the same items as an herbalism kit can. Plus, alchemist’s supplies give you access to special Alchemical Crafting that can take place during long rests.
It’s not clear from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything whether there are items that can exclusively be crafted with one or the other.
Some DMs are likely to rule that all potions, including health potions, can be crafted using alchemist’s supplies. If this is the case, there’s not much reason to choose the herbalism kit besides its roleplaying flavor.
The herbalism kit does allow you access to free crafting materials collected in the wilds. This may be useful at lower levels when gold is scarcer.
It may also be helpful for crafting in the wilderness without returning to town, depending on whether your DM allows you to craft during long rests. This might not be an option though.
Roleplaying an Herbalist Character
Herbalism, as a craft, has a lot of implicit flavor that you can build into some strong and memorable character concepts.
Herbalist characters likely have a deep connection to nature and extensive knowledge about nature. They might have an academic, wizardly knowledge that’s focused on cataloging plants and their properties.
These characters take a scientific approach to researching the properties of various plants and meticulously recording the results of new methods of combining them.
Other herbalists might take a more druidic approach. They feel the spirit of nature in the plants around them and can intuit which plants have which properties.
These characters might observe the behavior of a forest’s creatures to ascertain the qualities of a potential ingredient.
Do the forest creatures avoid certain berries, for example? Then they’re probably a good ingredient for poisons.
There’s also a strong folkloric tradition of herbalism. Many herbalists learned their craft through receiving generations-worth of handed-down knowledge.
These characters often come from small villages and are relied on for all kinds of magical and medical aid, similarly to a village witch.
Folkloric herbalists have spent their lives providing everything from cough remedies to midwifery services. They might even brew or distill alcohol for both medicine and recreation.
These folkloric herbalists may also appreciate the value of a good placebo, similarly to Terry Pratchett’s witches.
You can roleplay herbalists’ knowledge of nature in any in-character conversations. They’ll likely refer to a tree as a birch, a sycamore, or a beech rather than simply a “tree.”
Herbalists are also likely to take a particular interest in the plants and herbs that are relevant to a situation, especially plants and herbs that they’re unfamiliar with.
For example, if an herbalist hasn’t heard of one particular ingredient in a poison used to kill a high-profile NPC, that’s likely to be the lead they focus on exploring when searching for the killer.
The act of brewing potions is also a goldmine for compelling roleplay. You can take the opportunity to commune with nature by inviting the spirit of the forest to bless your gently simmering pot.
You can break out your most disturbing witchy cackle as you draw evil power into the bubbling mixture.
Perhaps you view the act in less spiritual terms – as a scientist, you know that brewing potions is simply a matter of cause and effect.
Instead, you focus on meticulously weighing and re-weighing every ingredient to perfect the balance of chemicals.
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I played the game a lot as a kid, back in first edition. Over the past few years since 5e was released, I’ve really started getting back into it. Currently, I run a campaign online for some friends and my brothers, and we also play a side-sesh just to mix things up.