A few potions

I’ve been placing a lot of potions lately, and although I appreciate the basic ones based on standard spells I though I’d put together a short list of “special” potions; I imagine these are created by wizards with a specific knack for potion making, which allows them to create unique things.

D6 Potion Appearance Effect Drawback
1 Troll’s Blood Murky liquid, chunks of olive green flesh. Troll regeneration. Regain 1 HP per round for the next 8 Turns. Lost body parts regrow, survive everything but fire or acid. Cancerous mutations. Save vs Poison or mutate. If mutated, Save vs Poison again or die from shock.
2 Mind’s Call Airy and silvery liquid, almost on the verge of gaseous, metallic taste Lightning mind. Thoughts speed up for 1 Turn, allowing time to grasp the situation. Impossible to surprise, always wins initiative, +4 to hit and AC. Distractions. The quick mind is easy to influence, Will saves are automatically failed while under the influence of this potion.
3 Purifier Steaming, clear liquid. Bottle of leather-bound ceramics, hot to the touch. Purifying heat. The magical cleansing removes all diseases and curses and purges poison from the system. Scalded throat. Suffer D4 damage; unable to speak for D3 days (no spellcasting).
4 Clawing Spirits Swirling mist, a constant very faint scratching noise comes from inside the glass. Cloud of claws. When shattered (or opened) a cloud of malevolent, mindless beings are released. 2D6 slashing damage to everything within 10’. Dissipates in 1 round. Vengeful. If the entity which opened or threw the bottle suffers damage from the potion, this is doubled.
5 False Rot Thick sludge, smells of rotting flesh. Tastes like fermented cheese. Semblance of undeath. Emit a strange odor for D6 Turns; all Undead believe you are one of them (of their exact, specific kind). Undeath. If the drinker is slain while under the effect of this potion, s/he will turn into an undead of appropriate HD.
6 Spider Blood Yellowish ichor, sweet and not unpleasant taste. Chitinous growth. Skin hardens into a cracked chitin, painfully (D3 damage). AC +4 for 2D6 Turns. Stacks with armor only if it is worn when potion is drunk. Shedding. After duration, chitin shreds and reveals a red and sore skin underneath. -4 penalty to all rolls for a day.

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Since I know everyone appreciates a nicely laid-out PDF, you can find that by clicking here.

Guild of Mages

Continuing with my musings on Class Guilds, I turn my attention to magic users. To me, a mage’s guild is a gentleman’s club of sorts, where wizards and their ilk can meet on somewhat neutral grounds despite being in fierce competition otherwise – a place where disputes between individuals who wield enormous power might be defused before they spill into the general community and hurt all wizards or start witch hunts.

Another issue arises with the introduction of the “Aesoterium”, a store for buying magical items that is open not only to guild members but (at increased rates) even to non-members. I know there are a lot of opinions about whether magical items should be for sale at all, and if so how and where. I strongly believe so, as long as the game gives the ability to formally create them in some way which has a measured cost.

For scrolls, potions and similar items there is an easily discernible cost – the money invested by the mage on creating the item, the resources that were spent making it and a premium for the time and risk required simply to learn how to perform this feat. I see no reason why wizards would not supplement their income and fund their experiments by brewing potions and making scrolls and selling these – and so, in my campaign world, they do.

I don’t usually allow sales of items that are not one-use, however. These items should have a more unique feel, to my mind. Of course they are both bought and sold; everything is, as everything has a price. It’s just that I think this is more about having them commissioned or private deals away from prying eyes. Also, my permanent magic items commonly have severe drawbacks or involve some sort of rather dark magic, which means they often need to be sold covertly.

My rules for the Mage’s Guild can be downloaded here, or in the Library. To clarify, a laboratory or library is used in LotFP to create potions or scrolls during downtime.

Have a sip!

I love potions. I love all one-use magic items, and I dole them out a lot more than I do magical weapons or armor. Why? Because they don’t give a flat, everlasting “bump” to the players’ power level which they soon get used to and bored with, and they encourage thinking and resource management.

Recently, my players asked me to create some rules for making an attempt to identify a potion “on the fly” by using the classical method of simply sampling it. I’ve allowed this in earlier campaigns, but never really codified how it should work, and it was about time!

Basically, the rules allow a character to identify the general purpose of the potion, but at the risk of “suffering” its effects (whether good or bad) or ruining it somehow. I based it on the premise that a potion is a rather disgusting mix och unsavory and unhealthy ingredients that somehow have a magical effect when taken as a whole. Thus, if you accidentally swallow the Eye of Newt swimming in there, you’ve not only made yourself sick, but also turned the remaining potion into nothing but a very disgusting stew…

Sipping a Potion

Potions fall somewhere between mundane items and the more advanced magical items; they usually have a single purpose, and their activation is very simple. Thus, they can be identified “in the field”, especially by someone skilled in the magical arts. The safest method is, still, to take the potion to an Alchemist or other skilled NPC.

To identify a potion in the field, a character must be willing to take a sip from the flask. This carries some risks, but grants the character a roll for the Lore skill to successfully identify the basic effect of the potion, with the amount of details judged by the GM. For a Potion of Flying, the GM might simply say, “you sense that this potion would grant some sort of flight”. The determination of the exact nature and duration of that flight would need an examination by an Alchemist, or that a character is willing to quaff the potion. A bonus of +1 for Deeper Knowledge should be given for this roll to Magic-User characters, but not Elves.

Sipping a potion is a simple action, requiring only one round. There are risks associated with sipping potions, however. If the die rolled for the Lore skill check turns up a 6, the player must make another roll on the table below (note that this might also be a successful identification attempt in some rare circumstances).

D6

Result

1 You Sipped Too Much! The potion takes effect in its entirety upon the sipping character immediately, and is used up.
2-3 You Ruined It! Something in this particular sip was crucial for the function of the potion, and now the entire flask is ruined without any effect.
4-5 Dilution! The potion will now only have half its usual effect. This affects rolled amounts, duration and most other things, susceptible to the DM’s interpretation. If the effect of the potion is very binary, a simple 50 % chance of it taking effect when drunk can instead be used.
6 Barf! This potion was not an appetizing drink to begin with (few potions are, even healing ones), and this particular sip was especially unhealthy. If the potion was dangerous or cursed (such as a poison), you suffer its full effects with a -2 to any Saving Throw. If it was not deadly, you still become violently ill and are stunned for D3 Turns.