Alchemy (Potion Creation) and Poison Crafting

Alchemist’s Supplies

  • RAW Cost: 50gp
  • RAW Weight: 8lbs
  • Items: Two glass beakers, a metal frame to hold a beaker in place over an open flame, a glass stirring rod, a small mortar and pestle, and a pouch of common alchemical ingredients, including salt, powdered iron, and purified water.
  • Crafting Restrictions: Requires access to heat.
  • Mundane Item Crafting: Acid, Alchemist’s Fire, Antitoxin, Ink, Perfume, Sealing Wax, Soap
  • Magic Item Crafting: Potions and a handful of metallic products
  • Artwork Creation: Creative but harmless potions meant to entertain instead of enhancing.
  • QA Artwork Bonus: None
  • Structure Building: N/A
  • Adventuring Utility: Proficiency bonus added to attacks made from alchemy items, and benefits when interacting with potions and other substances.

The process of creating a formula for a potion is part chemistry, part luck, and a lot of gold for ingredients that are wasted.  Fundamentally, the first thing that an Alchemist needs to create is the formula for a potion, and this is the research phase of the creation.

Herbalist’s Limited Alchemy: While herbalism is primarily used for gathering herbs, a creature with proficiency with herbalism kits has a limited proficiency in creating potions in addition to gathering herbs. You can use proficiency with an herbalism kit in place of alchemist’s supplies when creating potions of healing, antidotes, antitoxins, and vials of poison.

When crafting in this way, you use an herbalism kit and proficiency with it in place of alchemist’s supplies. This crafting otherwise works the same as using alchemist’s supplies. You can add additional ingredient modifiers when crafting in this way.

Poison Creation: The formulas are the same for poison crafting.  Use the poison rarity for Research Points that are required to develop the formula, and then the creation table for making that poison. 

Skill Usage

  • Arcana: Proficiency with alchemist’s supplies allows you to unlock more information on Arcana checks involving potions and similar materials.
  • Investigation: When you inspect an area for clues, proficiency with alchemist’s supplies grants additional insight into any chemicals or other substances that might have been used in the area.
  • Alchemical Crafting: You can use this tool proficiency to create alchemical items. A character can spend money to collect raw materials, which weigh 1 pound for every 50gp spent. The DM can allow a character to make a check using the indicated skill with advantage. As part of a long rest, you can use alchemist’s supplies to make one dose of acid, alchemist’s fire, antitoxin, oil, perfume, or soap. Subtract half the value of the created item from the total gold piece worth of raw materials you are carrying.

Alchemist’s Supplies Basic Skill Use Difficulty Table

ActivityDC
Create a puff of thick smoke10
Identify a poison10
Identify a substance15
Start a fire15
Neutralize acid20

Default Formulas

All alchemists are assumed to have the following common formulas already in their lab notebook:

  • Acid
  • Alchemist’s Fire
  • Antitoxin
  • Normal Ink
  • Perfume
  • Basic Poison
  • Sealing Wax
  • Soap

Research Point Cost

The base cost is just that, a starting point.  If the researcher is taking an existing uncommon potion and only slightly improving or changing it and does not warrant a full rarity change, then the cost would be somewhere between the two rarity levels.  All the costs are suggested values for existing potions and their rarities. There is not a straight formula since potions are graded by rarity instead of spell levels, but the end cost does follow the same progression.

Example:

A standard Healing Potion is a Common rarity and heals 2d4+2.  The alchemist wants to create a potion that heals 3d4+3, which is better than the Common one, but not as good as the Uncommon Greater Healing potion.  The Research Point cost should be split between the rarity which would give it a cost of 75 Research Points.

Potion Creation Research Point Cost Table

RarityResearch Point CostMinimum Character Level
Common251
Uncommon755
Rare1509
Very Rare30013
Legendary50017

Research Point Reductions

Only one of the two existing potion/formula reductions may be used for any specific formula creation.

Existing Potion: If the researcher has on hand another potion that is very similar and it can be used as an exemplar starting point, then a reduction up to 25% of the total Research Points needed can be applied to the cost. The potion that is used for this is also consumed during the process.

Existing Formula: If the Alchemist has a full formula created by someone else, there is a 50% reduction of the total research points required to create the spell.  While it might be a formula, it most likely will not be accurate missing or brewing idiosyncrasies of the alchemist that created that formula, therefore requiring the formula to be validated through additional research.

Facility: If there is a dedicated facility for the research and creation of alchemy formulas, then up to 25% of the cost can be reduced by expending facility points to replace the research points.  See the facilities rules for more details.

Potion Formula Creation Completion

Once the alchemist has collected enough Research Points it is time to put together the formula and test it.  There is no benefit in expending more Research Points or gold pieces once the minimum has been met, these would just go to waste since they will not impact the final DC. The Research Points that will be used for completing the project are spent and lost and are not recoverable. The creator will make an Alchemy Supplies skill roll. No other modifiers or advantage chances can be applied to this roll.  It can only be a straight roll. 

Once again, if the product being created is a slightly improved version of an existing potion, but not sufficiently to increase the rarity, the DC will increase as the average of the two rarity DCs as selected by the DM.

Example:

A standard Healing Potion is a Common rarity and heals 2d4+2.  The alchemist wants to create a potion that heals 3d4+3, which is better than the Common one, but not as good as the Uncommon Greater Healing potion.  The DC would be (8 + 14 = 22 / 2 = 11) 11.

If the roll is equal to or greater than the listed DC, the potion formula has been created and can be considered entered into the Alchemist formula book. Failure means that the formula was not created, and the alchemist must start again, but in their next attempt the amount of Research Points required is reduced by 50%.

Potion Formula Creation Success Table

RarityDC For Success
Common8
Uncommon14
Rare20
Very Rare26
Legendary32

Potion Creation

Now that the alchemist has created a formula, now it is time to start brewing some up. For each single dose of potion to be created will require a certain amount of ingredients as well as a difficulty check. The listed required ingredients are only the minimum and should include additional ingredients depending on the type of potion being created.

Potion Creation Failure

If at any time the alchemist rolls a natural one on any of the potion creation processes, it blows up in their face.  Roll on the following table to find the results.

Potion Creation Failure Table

Roll (d100)EffectCommonUncommonRareVery RareLegendary
01-05Oh, my loving god: Roll on the wild magic tableOne rollTwo rollsThree rollsFour rollsFive rolls
06-25Oh, this is going to hurt: Your attempt at potion creation blows up in your face. Damage is random (1d12): Acid (1), Bludgeoning (2), Cold (3), Fire (4), Force (5), Lightning (6), Necrotic (7), Piercing (8), Poison (9), Psychic (10), Radiant (11), Slashing (12)2d63d84d105d126d20
26-50This is very bad: You find that you have temporarily lost the ability to cast spells.One DayThree DaysFive DaysTen DaysOne Month
51-90This is not good: You find that you have temporarily lost the ability to make potions.One DayOne WeekOne MonthThree MonthsOne Year
91-99This is confusing: The potion you created does the opposite you were expecting, but it looks correct to you, and you think you succeeded.
100How did I do that: Success!  Your potion still turned out, but only a single dose no matter how many ingredients you used.

Potion Creation Table

Potion RarityIngredientsDC to Create Single PotionDC to Create 1d4 PotionsDC to Create 1d6 PotionsDC to Create 1d8 PotionsDC to Create 1d10 PotionsDC to Create 1d12 Potions
Common3 common ingredients
Glass Vial
101214161820
Uncommon1 common ingredient
3 uncommon ingredients
Glass Vial
141719212325
Rare3 uncommon ingredients
2 rare ingredients
Glass Vial
182224262830
Very Rare2 uncommon ingredients
3 rare ingredients
2 very rare ingredients
Crystal Vial
222729313335
Legendary5 uncommon ingredients
4 rare ingredients
3 very rare ingredients
2 legendary ingredients
Crystal Vial
253133353739


Essence Requirements

When crafting potion specific rarity levels of ingredients are required, but there is also a requirement of the proper type of ingredient.  If a healing potion is being crafted, then 50% of those ingredients need to be either divine or curative in nature.  If you are making a poison, then you would need at least 50% poisonous ingredients, and so forth.  The following table gives a rough guideline to these, but there could be other specific requirements as per the DM looking over the required recipe.

Type of Ingredient Table

Potion TypeIngredient Type Required
Healing50% Curative, Divine, or Poisonous ingredient of each type
Ability or Form Changing50% Primal ingredient of each type
Magical Results50% Arcane ingredient of each type

There will be other specific requirements as per the DM looking over the required recipe.

Example:

The alchemist is creating a Potion of Fire Breathing, which is an uncommon magic item.  At least one of the uncommon ingredients must be of a fire origin.