All too often when our characters down a potion in a campaign, it’s done without any fanfare. Poisoned? Down a “Cure Poison” potion. Hurt? Drink some “Cure Light Wounds.” But do we ever really think about what we’re downing? What does it look like? Smell like? Taste like?
I’ve always wondered why alchemy wasn’t handled with more culinary “flavor” in fantasy RPGs. Sure, you can get a potion to cure whatever ails you, but with some of the ingredients and magical touches that go into those things, some of them would have to taste horrible! Plus, they can’t all come in nice little glass bottles, can they? The variety of potions available should be as wide as the number of folks creating them. It’s not as though every friendly witch doctor, herbalist, or wizard on the corner buys all his or her supplies at the same place. Even the ingredient list would change from practitioner to practitioner.
Somehow I think if we downed a potion in the real world, we’d be complaining that it tasted like castor oil or like the fake “bubblegum” flavoring that some kids’ medicines seem to prefer. Blech.
Ennead Games’ Potion Details Generator solves this problem in style. The book includes options for everything from the container to the color, texture and freshness of its contents. Need a potion? Roll on a few tables to get details, put them together, and suddenly your “Water Walking Potion” comes in a jar made from shells, with one ounce of iridescent Indigo liquid inside that smells like seawater and tastes like old fish. Isn’t that much more fun?
There are twenty different tables to choose from. And I bet you won’t need all of them for any one potion. In fact, I might have liked to have seen one more that suggested which table to roll on for inspiration. Perhaps one time you’ll figure out a particular “potion” in a treasure cache is a bit larger than usual (flask size, containing 12 oz.) and another you’ll determine that there’s a label indicating that the potion has expired. Roll again and maybe you discover that there are diamond-shaped ridges on the bottle and the smell or taste is simply overpowering for the person consuming it…
Other thoughts also came to mind such as rules for what to do if the potion had a particularly horrible taste or odor. Perhaps the character imbibing the liquid would have to make a saving throw or potentially not drink the entire thing (or expunge it if it was truly bad)? How would you determine how much they had consumed and how much of the potion’s effects they would get as a result?
Though the supplement is tagged for the Pathfinder system in DTRPG/RPGNow, there really are only a couple of tables (“Side Effects” and “Quirks”) that aren’t generic enough to apply to any fantasy or urban fantasy system/setting. It’s written to be easily adapted and I could see it being very useful across a wide variety of games and settings.
The production values for the book are pretty plain, but you don’t really need much flash for a collection of tables. The PDF has 16 pages, with 11 pages of content. Every page has a slightly washed-out or water-damaged background
on it to give it a bit of texture, but the main part of each page is mostly background-free. I know a number of folks who would prefer there to be no background at all or a way to turn it off, but I don’t think it gets in the way here. The headings and body text are quite readable, as is all of the table text – whether reading on my iPad or on a full computer monitor.
And you can’t beat the cost. It’s darn cheap (less than $2) for a ton of content you can use in a nearly infinite number of ways.
So if you want to add a bit of color to your potions, pick up a copy of the Potion Details Generator for your GM toolbox. Your players will likely appreciate a bit more detail about this often glossed over part of our traditional fantasy RPGs!
Looking for more information? Check out…
- … the Potion Details Generator at DriveThruRPG.
- … all of the other great products from Ennead Games available at DriveThruRPG.
- … the Ennead Games website, which always has fantastic free random tables to spice up your gaming.
- … the Ennead Games Facebook page.