Potions are the classic magical consumable, even more so than spell scrolls. These alchemical concoctions are effectively spells in a bottle, taking an action to drink and bestowing the effects of your own personal spell caster.
This article will serve as a guide and reference for all those DnD 5e players who are interested in potions.
Whether you’re making a wishlist or are just looking for some ideas of loot to give your players, our table of existing potions and suggestions on how to generate your own potion effects will be sure to prove a valuable resource.
Table of Potions
The following table lists potion rarities, costs, duration, and effects.
Potions are drawn primarily from the Dungeon Master’s Guide, though a few of the freely available online potions from supplemental books are also listed.
The table is sorted by a suggested price. While the DMG does provide official prices for each rarity of magic item, these ranges are rather broad.
Instead of simply reproducing those ranges, the costs below are drawn from an excellent piece of homebrew called Sane Magical Prices. These prices are only suggestions and are meant to show the difference in practical value between the potions.
They are not necessarily what the potions would sell for, if potions even exist for sale in your campaign world.
Some of the prices have been edited slightly; the document doesn’t include prices for every potion.
The table is fully searchable, and while similar potions (like various kinds of healing potions) are relatively far apart cost-wise, DnD 5e makes sure to provide similar naming conventions for similar potions, making it easier to search for, for example, all strength potions.
Potion Crafting in DnD 5e
DnD 5e offers two optional sets of rules for crafting magic items, which include brewing potions.
Both are considered part of the optional downtime rules and provide mutually exclusive guidelines, so if you want to follow them you’ll need to choose one or the other.
Dungeon Master’s Guide Potion Brewing
The DMG’s optional rules for potion brewing are fairly simple. Based on the rarity of the desired item there is a cost incurred that represents the materials used in the brewing process.
Brewing the potion occurs in 25 gp increments, with each increment lasting one working day (8 hours). Thus, to brew a potion with a creation cost of 50 gp, a character must spend 2 working days.
The creation cost is halved for consumables like potions, and the table below reflects this. If you were crafting a non-consumable item, the creation costs would be doubled.
Additionally, you must also meet certain character level requirements, as well as being able to cast any spells the potion duplicates.
|Item Rarity||Creation Cost||Minimum Level|
|Very Rare||25,000 gp||11th|
While this system may make sense in a world where magical items are rare and precious, it isn’t practical for most players. Crafting a Very Rare potion would take almost 3 years of downtime, and crafting a Legendary potion, something that can only be used once ever, would take almost 3 decades.
Other players can assist, contributing to the total creation cost, but this can be difficult at high levels. Multiple 17th level Wizards capable of casting a particular spell may be difficult.
While I can only speak from personal experience, campaigns with years of downtime are rare, making the time cost of potions exorbitant for most players, if not impossible. This is likely why XGtE gave an additional version of the optional crafting rules.
Xanathar’s Guide to Everything Potion Brewing
XGtE’s method for potion creation is much more reasonable than the DMG’s.The chart below lays out how many weeks an item takes to make as well as the cost in gold, and like the DMG’s rules would be doubled for non-consumable items.
|Very Rare||12 ½||10,000 gp|
While it takes only half a year rather than 3 decades to brew a legendary potion, Xanathar’s Guide says that creating magical items requires rare and special magical ingredients.
The quest to gather these special materials will be its own challenge, and will require interacting with a creature of some kind. This could be a fight, but might also be a lengthy bargaining process that requires some service to be done or an elaborate heist. Xanathar’s Guide suggests that the CR of the creature be based on the rarity of the desired potion, as shown below.
|Item Rarity||CR Range|
Additionally, XGtE makes an exception for healing potions. If a character has proficiency with the herbalism kit, they can make healing potions according to the following table:
|Healing||1 day||25 gp|
|Greater Healing||1 workweek||100 gp|
|Superior Healing||3 workweeks||1,000 gp|
|Supreme Healing||4 workweeks||10,000 gp|
The XGtE system makes brewing your own potions much more reasonable. However, DnD continues to balance the ability of potions to effectively store certain spells with an investiture of time, so even with these updated rules only campaigns that involve a significant amount of downtime will be able to brew their own potions.
When you factor in the fact that potions are single-use only, spending more than a month to create a single Rare potion begins to look unappealing.
DnD is fundamentally a storytelling game. If these item crafting rules don’t work for your campaign, you don’t have to use them. They are optional after all.
Homebrewing potion brewing rules is a great option for games where downtime is limited or players simply feel the potion brewing system is too limiting.
While you can retain the gp cost of potion brewing (or make the gp cost ½ to ¾ the price listed on the Sane Magical Prices document), you can drop or drastically cut the time required to make these potions.
In order to make sure potions don’t become too overpowered, I recommend keeping the XGtE rules about interacting with an appropriate CR monster in order to get the materials required for the potion.
However, you may want to adjust this slightly so that characters can make more than one potion from the materials gathered from a quest, especially at lower levels.
In addition, it may be worth stating that the potions you make will go stale after a few days to prevent players from stockpiling potions in an attempt to cheese the system. You might want to say that the official rules create potions that last long term, but the quick-brew potions you make are only useful for a short time.
And lastly, while it may seem tempting I recommend not nerfing the potions themselves. Making the effects too weak will sap the fun of potion brewing, and the fun of potions is the whole reason to homebrew your own potion brewing rules!
Inventing Your Own Potions – For DMs
While these are the official potions, some players might find them limiting.
Alchemy and potion-craft aren’t very explored in DnD 5e, and it’s understandable that you might want more options. With that in mind, here are a few ways you can come up with your own potions!
Adapting Other 5e Spells
A lot of potions are basically spells in a bottle, like the potion of Water Breathing or the potion of Clairvoyance. You can further adapt other spells into potions, like the 7th level spell Regenerate or the 5th level spell Dream.
Basically, any spell that affects a creature is a good candidate for becoming a potion.
Plus, some spells can be turned into magical poisons. A twist on the potion of Mind Control might be a draught that, once drunk, magically compels the drinker as per Dominate spells.
Rather than being a simple spell replacement, players would have to trick or deceive others into drinking the potion, adding an extra element of role playing to the simple mechanics of potions.
Finding Potion Ideas From Other Sources
Video games, books, and even older editions of DnD can all provide inspiration for additional potions. You can use potions from games like Minecraft, or replicate interesting effects from your favorite books.
A note of warning: If you use poisons from 3.5 or Pathfinder be aware that they often do ability damage, something that is extremely rare in DnD 5e. In fact, only the Intellect Devourer and Shadow do ability damage. Potions of this kind will therefore be extremely powerful relative to the 5e world.
Extra Magical Effects
Have you ever wanted a way to include your homebrew magical effects but worried that making them spells would unbalance your game? Want to make someone repel any metal that gets near them or gain the ability to sense life forms around them?
Potions provide a useful receptacle for miscellaneous and bizarre magic. Potions are consumable, which means that if you find the effect is too broken or uninteresting you can simply stop offering potions of that kind! Potions are a great way to playtest potential spells and can add some spice to the magic of your world.
Potions are an easy-to-overlook item type in DnD 5e, but not only are there a lot of excellent potions out there, potions are a great way to experiment with homebrew too!
Whether your inventing your own kinds of potions or making them yourself rather than waiting for them to show up in loot, potions are an excellent alternate avenue of magic in the DnD world, and a great place to inject flavor into your campaign.