I love putting potions and the like in my games. Whenever I’ve played, nothing matches the feeling of finding some unidentified liquid in an unmarked bottle and wondering what it does. Except maybe exploring the moral “gray” area of forcing random NPCs to test it for you
Potion Mystery Packs
In a lot of my games, I tend to put alchemists or apothecaries in a traveling merchant troupe that sell “mystery packs” of alchemical ingredients. They cost 50gp each and contain two ingredients guaranteed to combine into a potion, poison, or drug. The first mystery pack comes with a complimentary potion-making kit and instructions.
If a player purchases one of these kits and decides to make their potion, I have them roll d66 and consult a table to determine which ingredients were in the pack and the resultant potion. I would then have them log the potion in their inventory as “Potion 42” or whatever for my reference later whenever they use it.
I was initially inspired by the alchemy section of Disciples of Bone & Shadow, but I tended to forget which ingredients resulted in which effects, and I felt some of the effects were too mechanical, so I made my own table! The idea is that players could potentially forage for specific ingredients once they learn the effects of certain combinations.
I plan on making a second table like this with animal-based ingredients in the future. For now this is something I’m happy with.
Feel free to adjust any effects, durations, or sensory information if you don’t like how it works. To generate this list, I would roll a d6 for each entry. 1-2 was a potion, 3 was a poison, 4 was a stimulant, 5 was a depressant, and 6 was a psychedelic. This resulted in quite a few drugs on this list, and I will probably adjust that ratio for my animal-based potion table.
- Sludgethorn Mushroom
- Dark green cap, turns bright orange when bruised. The cap is very slimy and covered in thorns
- Found under conifer trees during the rainy season
- Whistlebreath Sprig
- Herb famous for its association with the Whistlebeak bird. Commonly burned in religious rituals as a purifier.
- Grows in arid mountain regions
- Goldendew Tree Sap
- Sap from the famous Goldendew tree. When tapped during the autumn, they shimmer with small specks of what appear to be pure gold
- Grow in conifer forests
- Nethergloom Branch
- Dark red branches from the Nethergloom tree. Legend says they grow over the site of wrongful executions. Famously sent when informing someone of the death of a loved one
- Waterdew Blossom
- While beautiful, they cause severe indigestion in a raw state. When dried, however, they can be used as an aid for those experiencing indigestion
- Mysteriously grow in shallow pools of water in tundra regions
- Guardian Witch
- A beautiful flower that is pure white when a bud, but jet black when it has blossomed. Receiving one in the mail typically means someone’s feelings for you have soured drastically. They do smell beautiful when in bloom
- Found during the Spring in deciduous forests quite rarely
- Elysian Barley
- Grow alongside normal barley, but have the appearance of pure silver. It is said that if you find one, you have great fortune coming for you
- It is extremely rare to find Elysian Barley. They seem to grow randomly with no apparent reason. As such they cannot be farmed
- Nettlecreep Root
- These are used medicinally as relief for headaches. They smell like dead fish and taste like raw meat
- Folklore tells that a great ruler once found a meadow full of these and was assassinated the same day. Finding one is seen as a portent of death
- These only grow during the winter time in deciduous forests
- Bridetear Seeds
- Said to be able to cause a newly-married man to run after another woman. Of course, this rumor is perpetuated by men who have left their wives
- Are at the core of a pink, pear-like fruit that grows in the Spring in mountainous areas
- The taste of a raw vomitberry instantly causes the consumer to vomit violently
- Found growing on bushes in arid mountain regions
- King’s Ransom
- A beautiful flower that looks like a crown, even beset with what appear to be jewels. They are extremely rare and costly. Royalty often seek them out as a status symbol
- Only grow on the corpses of assassinated nobility