Next to scrolls, potions are the easiest magical item to create. They are also the most versatile. In addition to duplicating various spell effects, many potions can create effects that no spell can duplicate. Furthermore, anyone may use a potion.
Creating a Potion
There are two types of potions: magical potions and alchemical potions. Alchemical potions are non-magical potions that may be brewed by anyone. Magical potions may only be created by wizards. Both types rely on the alchemy skill although even those untrained in the skill may still attempt it.
The process is primarily the same for both types of potions. First off, you will need a recipe for the specific type of potion to be brewed. Secondly, you will need access to a well stocked lab including all sorts of equipment. Most large towns contain a wizarding guild that will provide access to a lab for a fee (and possibly a deposit against any damage you may cause) as well as the opportunity to make a copy of the recipe you wish to use. Certain high level potions, however, are so dangerous to concoct that they may not be attempted in guild labs. In those cases, the character must locate other lab space or build her own.
Each potion will require any of a number of standard ingredients that are readily available in most towns. There will also be one or more rare ingredients that are increasingly less likely to be available for sale as the level of the potion goes up. If an ingredient isn’t available for sale, the character must procure it herself. Many such ingredients (blood of a magical creature, rare flower, etc) spoil very quickly and therefore must be used within a very short time after they have been obtained.
Magical potions must also have one or more spells cast upon them in order to empower the potion. These spells may be cast from a scroll or device but doing so will increase the DC of successfully crafting the potion.
The time requirement and number of potions produced will vary with each individual recipe. Typically, one dose of potion consists of one ounce of liquid and each dose is bottled into a separate vial. Once concocted, potions do not spoil and may be stored indefinitely.
To use a potion, the character simply imbibes the potion. The effects are usually instantaneous. As noted above, anyone may use a potion.
Oils, Crèmes & Elixirs
The process for creating an oil, crème, or elixir is identical to that for creating potions. Oils and crèmes, however, are bottled into flasks and jars, respectively, each containing up to 20 doses. Both oils and crèmes are applied externally, either to a creature or to an object depending on the particular item. Elixirs are identical to potions in all respects save one: elixir effects are permanent. For example, a potion of strength will raise a character’s strength for a set period before it returns to normal, while an elixir of strength will raise a character’s strength permanently.
Elixirs require extremely rare ingredients that are never found for sale and are extraordinarily difficult to obtain.
Using a Potion
Preparing a potion (including oils, crèmes, and elixirs) is a minor action so long as it is located in a readily accessible place such as a belt, belt pouch, or pocket. Drinking a potion or elixir, or applying an oil or crème to one’s own person or equipment, is a standard action. It is possible to apply an oil or crème to another creature or creature’s equipment, or to assist another creature in drinking a potion or elixir (if the creature is willing) as a full round action.
Retrieving, opening, and drinking a potion or elixir requires one free hand. A character using a two-handed weapon may hold the weapon in one hand, freeing the other to use the potion. A buckler or small shield offers enough freedom for the shield-hand to be used in this manner as well. However, a character using both a weapon and a medium or large shield must stow or drop one or the other in order to use a potion or elixir. Oils and crèmes require two hands.
Attempting to drink a potion or elixir, or apply an oil or crème, while adjacent to a hostile enemy, incurs an opportunity attack from that creature. If the attack is successful, your attempt fails and the potion or elixir is wasted (or one dose of the oil or crème is lost).
It is not possible to use a partial dose for partial effects. Nor does a double dose double the effects. If a second dose of a potion is consumed, it has no additional effect. However, it will extend the duration such that two doses will have twice the duration. If an oil or crème is applied to a creature or object, it will remove any previously applied oil or crème before taking effect.
Elixirs are the exception. A character may drink the same elixir over and over and continue to gain the effect of each elixir again and again. Elixirs are quite rare though (as are the ingredients necessary for their manufacture) so the chance of the opportunity arising is quite slim.
There is no restriction as to how many different types of magical potions a character may be under the effect of at any given time. However, there is a chance (that increases with the number of potions involved) that the potions will react poorly with one another and impose a side-effect. The chance of immiscibility comes into play every time two or more magic potions are consumed. Just because two potions worked together one time does not mean that they will not create a side effect the next. Similarly, the side effects caused by the combination of two potions will not always be the same every time those two potions are combined.
Magical elixirs and non-magical alchemical potions have no such problem and may be combined without any risk of unforeseen side effects.