Spells as Potions (5e Variant Rule)

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Spells as Potions[edit]

These rules provide generic instructions for brewing potions based on spells you can cast. Determining the correct ability check to make and its DC are detailed below, as is how to resolve the potion once made. The process is as follows:

  1. Determine the ability check and its DC.
  2. Follow the rules for making a spell scroll of spell level (DC-12)/2, rounding fractions up, except that you can use the proficiencies called for here in place of the Arcana skill proficiency mandated by the spell scroll construction rules.
    1. Round fractions down for calculating equivalent rarity by spell scroll, in case this matters - for example, DC 15 costs as much time and money to make as a level 2 scroll, but has the rarity of a level 1 scroll.
  3. When the spell scroll would be completed, cast the spell, setting the spell's save DC and possibly making choices for it.
  4. Now make the ability check. If you fail, the resources are wasted, squandered in the failed attempt. If you wish to try again, you will need to start over from scratch, buying resources and spending time anew.

Upcasted spells resolve at their upcasted spell level in all respects.

Ability Checks by Class[edit]

Brewing a spell into a potion has a DC set by other factors, but which ability check you make is class-dependent. There are multiple ways to divide up spellcasting classes, so in case new classes come out before this page is updated, here is the logic that went into assigning ability checks to classes:

Focus and Class Skills: First and foremost, a class that can use a druidic focus uses Nature, a divine focus uses Religion, and an arcane focus or tool (such as Artificers and Bards) uses Arcana. If it's still unclear, if a class offers skill proficiency in only one of Arcana, Nature, and Religion, that is the appropriate skill to choose. If it offers Arcana and one other option, choose Arcana. As of this article, no class offers Nature and Religion, so it's unclear which you should choose. If a class offers none or all three and doesn't allow the use of a focus, the answer is probably Arcana, but decide based on the theme of the class and the spellcasting ability modifier - Intelligence should imply Arcana and Wisdom should imply Nature or Religion, with Charisma going either way. The same logic applies to a subclass offering spells when a class does not. In the case of a multiclass spellcaster, the appropriate ability check is based the class providing the prepared or known spell being brewed.

For all ability checks, use the spellcasting ability modifier appropriate to the spell in question. If no modifier is given, assume Wisdom for Nature or Religion, and Intelligence for Arcana.

That leads to this matrix of appropriate ability checks by class, with subclass examples offered when necessary - this list is accordingly not exhaustive, as Barbarian, Fighter, and Rogue subclasses will have answers that vary by subclass.

Ability Checks by Class and Subclass
Class Ability Skill
Artificer Intelligence Arcana
Barbarian (Ancestral Guardian) Wisdom Nature
Bard Charisma Arcana
Cleric Wisdom Religion
Druid Wisdom Nature
Fighter (Eldritch Knight) Intelligence Arcana
Monk Wisdom Religion
Paladin Charisma Religion
Ranger Wisdom Nature
Rogue (Arcane Trickster) Intelligence Arcana
Sorcerer Charisma Arcana
Warlock Charisma Arcana
Wizard Intelligence Arcana

Tool Use and Proficiency[edit]

A class using Arcana uses Alchemist's Supplies to brew potions. A class using Nature uses an Herbalism Kit to brew potions. A class using Religion does not use a tool. In all cases, proficiency and possession of the tool is necessary, and a private, undisturbed work environment. As is normal for tool proficiency, having proficiency in both skill and tool grants advantage, meaning Arcana and Nature users find it more challenging to qualify for brewing potions, but once they do, they are better at it than Religion users.

Ability Check DC[edit]

The base DC of the check to brew a spell into a potion is 12 + 2*(Spell Level) + (1 if the spell has a casting time greater than or equal to 1 minute) + (1 if the spell has a casting time greater than ten minutes), where a cantrip is spell level 0 and casting time is the time you actually take to cast the spell into the brew, so normally, if you cast a spell as a ritual, that's an automatic +2, since you need 10 minutes plus at least one more turn to cast the spell. A spell with a casting time of 2 hours or more can't be brewed into a potion at all.

Additional DC Modifiers[edit]

  • A spell with a casting time of 1 bonus action increases its DC by 1.
  • A spell which is range Self increases its DC by 1.
  • A Concentration spell increases its DC by 6, but the brewed version is no longer Concentration, and instead occurs at full duration, as though embedded in a Glyph of Warding.
  • Any potion can be brewed as a salve instead, changing it from ingestion vector to contact. In addition, this enables the brewing of potions that target objects - the potion resolves against the object it is rubbed onto. This increases the DC by 1.

Brewable Spells Criteria[edit]

In order to brew a spell into a potion, the spell must have a casting time of less than two hours, and its casting time cannot be a reaction. Furthermore, the spell must target only creatures and/or objects - it must not target a point in space. As a result, Misty Step is ok, but Dimension Door is not. Finally, the spell must not be delivered via melee or ranged spell attack.

After you calculate the DC, if the DC is greater than 30, the potion can't be brewed at all, no matter how well you roll.

Brewable Spells Resolution[edit]

A brewed potion is ingested and targets only the drinker, even if the spell would normally target multiple creatures; for a range Self spell, the target counts as the caster, while for any other range, the potion is the caster and is immediately destroyed upon casting the spell, with consequences as appropriate for the spell. A potion brewed as a salve targets only the creature or object it is rubbed onto.

An ingested potion takes an action to drink, like any other magic potion. A salve that is a spell with a casting time of 1 bonus action instead takes 1 action to rub onto the target; otherwise, it takes as long as the original spell did to cast to rub onto the target.

For a spell which is not range Self, any decisions the spell calls for may be made at the time the potion is brewed (specifically, when the spell is cast at the end of the creation process but before making the ability check); this is mandatory for salves. For example, if you brew Enlarge/Reduce into an imbibed potion, you can either choose Enlarge or Reduce when you brew it, or let the drinker decide. If you brew it into a salve, you have to choose at brew time which effect the potion will have on the target. Any choice you simply can't make would result in an illegal potion - so, for example, the only way to make a Protection from Poison salve is to have the spell cure a random poison, as there's no way at brew time to choose a poison afflicting the future target for the salve to cure.

Save DCs are set when you cast the spell - calculate your Save DC, and that is the Save DC for the potion.


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