Potions in DnD 5E explained

Potions are a mainstay in many, if not most, stories and games where magic is a prevalent theme and are a great boon to their users. This is especially true in Dungeons and Dragons, where potions are commonly thought of as being valued pieces of treasure, with effects ranging from healing grievous wounds to rendering the user invisible. In this article, we’ll go over how potions work in D&D 5E and how much it might cost you to buy them.

What are Potions?

Potions are magical liquids that bestow the drinker with a wide variety of benefits, some instantaneous and some longer-lasting. The brewing process and ingredients of potions vary by their type and the world in which they’re made, for many tables this will be up to the DM should you seek to brew your own. Potions are considered consumable magic items, as they can be used once only, and this affects their pricing and prevalence.

What are the rules for using Potions? 

To withdraw a potion from a pouch or your backpack you must use your object interaction for that round. It then takes an action to drink a potion yourself or to administer it to another creature. Once you take this action the potion takes effect immediately and is used up. As you are explicitly allowed to administer potions to others, you can use a potion of healing to save a friend at 0 hit points.

If a potion references a spell, such as a potion of heroism referencing Bless, then you are benefitting from the spell without it being cast. This means that if a spell would normally have a concentration requirement, the potion version doesn’t require concentration and it can’t be counterspelled when you drink it. Some potions will also change the duration and details of some spell effects, for example, the aforementioned potion of heroism confers the benefits of Bless for one hour, but the spell itself only lasts for one minute.

Unlike other magic items, potions don’t have resistance to all damage and cannot be sentient magic items.

What happens if you drink more than one Potion?

You might be tempted to combine multiple potions in a single container so you can quaff them in a single action, or you may just drink a potion whilst still under the effects of your previous beverage. There are no rules for this as standard in 5E, however, there is a variant rule in the Dungeon Master’s Guide (pg. 140) for mixing potions. 

This rule has a character roll on the Potion Miscibility table whenever they mix two potions together, be it in their belly or a separate container. If more than two potions are involved the player must roll once for each additional potion. Unless the effects rolled on the table are immediately obvious, the DM reveals them only when they have become evident. The Potion Miscibility table is replicated below for convenience:

01The mixture creates a magical explosion, dealing 6d10 force damage to the mixer and 1d10 force damage to each creature within 5 feet of the mixer.
02-08The mixture becomes an ingested poison of the DM’s choice.
09-15Both potions lose their effects.
16-25One potion loses its effect.
26-35Both potions work, but with their numerical effects and durations halved. A potion has no effect if it can’t be halved in this way.
36-90Both potions work normally.
91-99The numerical effects and duration of one potion are doubled. If neither potion has anything to double in this way, they work normally.
00Only one potion works, but its effect is permanent. Choose the simplest effect to make permanent, or the one that seems the most fun. For example, a potion of healing might increase the drinker’s hit point maximum by 4, or oil of etherealness might permanently trap the user in the Ethereal Plane. At your discretion, an appropriate spell, such as dispel magic or remove curse, might end this lasting effect.

How much do Potions cost?

Many players prefer to be proactive and purchase potions to aid in their adventures, rather than waiting and making do with whatever they find as loot. The exact pricing of potions will likely vary from table to table, but we’ll present the price information the game provides here. 

The Player’s Handbook (PHB) tells us that a standard potion of healing costs 50 GP (pg. 150, Adventuring Gear table), but additional prices are provided in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (XGtE) under Appendix A: Shared Campaigns (pg. 174). The table in that appendix is listed here but reordered to group healing potions together, and the amount of healing they do is added for ease of reference:

Potion of…Cost
Healing (2d4 + 2)50 GP
Greater Healing (4d4 + 4)100 GP
Superior Healing (8d4 + 8)500 GP
Supreme Healing (10d4 + 20)5,000 GP
Climbing75 GP
Animal Friendship100 GP
Water Breathing100 GP
Invisibility5,000 GP

You could also purchase potions using the downtime rules featured in XGtE (pg. 127), these rules involve making a Persuasion skill check to find a quality seller of magic items. It should be noted that this can be an expensive way of purchasing potions, as you need to spend one workweek of downtime and 100 GP at minimum to even get the opportunity to purchase anything and you can spend more time and money to make the Persuasion check easier. The price of the potion itself will be determined by its rarity, as shown in the table below. The price will be half what is rolled as a potion is a consumable item.

RarityAsking Price (Half the result for Potions)
Common(1d6 + 1) x 10 GP
Uncommon1d6 x 100 GP
Rare2d10 x 1,000 GP
Very Rare(1d4 + 1) x 10,000 GP
Legendary2d6 x 25,000 GP

This is an abridged version of the downtime purchasing rules, to highlight how much gold you’ll need to spend. For the complete set of rules and what you’d need to do please refer to XGtE pg. 127.

We hope that this article has quenched your thirst for potion knowledge and left you refreshed for your next adventure. If you’re interested in crafting your own potions then check out our guide to crafting magic items, or if you’re here just because you find alchemy, such as potions, cool then check out our Artificer guide for more alchemical goodness. Until next time may your healing potions roll high and may the bottles remain corked in your backpack!