Random Potion Description Charts

Adding some extra descriptions to your game can help make things interesting for your players.  For example, when PCs discover a potion, initially it isn’t a Potion of Healing or Potion of Invisibility.  It is a potion that is a certain color, has a given consistency, has a particular smell and taste (if a PC tries it) and comes in one of many types of flasks.

If you keep some consistency, interested players can guess at a potion’s purpose just as their characters would. (Assuming a character doesn’t have a lot of arcane knowledge.)  Of course, potions with the same purpose can be made in different ways and the resulting properties can vary. Or sometimes potions with different purposes can have overlapping properties. For example, alchemists who study at one school may make Potions of Strength that are blue gray, fizzy, and taste like almonds.  But alchemists at another school may make Potions of Water Breathing that are blue gray, fizzy, and taste like almonds.

Whether you keep a one-to-one relationship between each type of potion and its properties or not, this idea can add a little bit of depth and fun to your game sessions.

Below are a number of ways to vary potions and different options for each property.

Color

d100 Color
1 Almond
2 Apricot
3 Aquamarine
4-5 Asparagus
6 Banana
7-8 Beaver
9 Black
10-11 Blue
12-13 Blue Gray
14 Blue Violet
15 Blush
16 Brick Red
17-18 Brown
19-20 Burnt Orange
21 Canary
22 Carnation Pink
23-24 Chestnut
25 Dandelion
26 Desert Sand
27-28 Eggplant
29-30 Fern
31 Fuchsia
32 Gold
33 Goldenrod
34-35 Gray
36 Green
37-38 Green Yellow
39 Inchworm
40 Indigo
41 Jungle Green
42 Lavender
43 Lemon
44-45 Mahogany
46 Maize
47 Mango
48 Maroon
49 Midnight Blue
50 Mulberry
51-52 Olive Green
53 Orange
54-55 Orange Red
56 Orange Yellow
57 Orchid
58 Peach
59 Periwinkle
60 Pine Green
61 Plum
62-63 Raw Umber
64 Red
65 Red Orange
66 Red Violet
67 Robin’s Egg Blue
68 Salmon
69-70 Scarlet
71 Sea Green
72 Silver
73 Sky Blue
74 Sunset Orange
75 Tan
76 Teal Blue
77 Tumbleweed
78 Turquoise Blue
79 Violet (Purple)
80 Violet Blue
81 Violet Red
82-83 White
84 Yellow
85 Yellow Orange
86 Clear
87-90 Translucent. Roll again for translucency color.
91-93 Two colors interspersed throughout but separate. Roll two more times.
94-96 One primary color with interspersed drops of another color. Roll again for each.
97-99 Two colors where one floats above the other. Roll again for each.
00 Two colors that change every minute or so. Roll again for each.

Consistency

d10 Consistency
1 Bubbly
2 Clumpy
3 Fizzy
4 Gassy
5 Runny
6 Thin
7 Thick
8 Watery
9-10 Roll twice; re-roll this result if it occurs again.

Taste

Roll 1d4+1 times, or choose a few that have some strange connection to the potion’s perceived ingredients. Some alchemists may add flavor to mask the taste. Each flavor may occur at the same time as others or may be the initial flavor, main flavor or aftertaste.  In addition, you may want to add a general taste description such as spicy, sweet, sour, bitter, floral, etc.

d100 Taste
1 Apple
2 Banana
3 Beans, Green
4 Beans, Lima
5-7 Beef
8 Blueberry
9 Cabbage
10-13 Chicken
14-15 Chives
16-17 Chutney
18-21 Cinnamon
12-24 Coffee
25 Corn
26 Cucumber
27-29 Fish
30-32 Ginger
33-37 Garlic
38 Grape
39-40 Ham
41-42 Honey
43-44 Jasmine
45 Kiwi
46 Lettuce
47-49 Lemon
50-54 Licorice
55-59 Mushroom
60-62 Mustard
63-64 Nuts
65 Olives
66-68 Onion
69-70 Orange
71 Peach
72 Peas
73-77 Pepper, Black
77-81 Pepper, Hot
82-83 Pickle
84 Pine
86-85 Pork
87 Pumpkin
88-89 Rabbit
90 Radish
91 Raspberry
92-93 Salt
94-96 Snake
97 Squash
98 Tomato
99-00 Venison

Smell

You may use the same flavors from the taste chart for the potion’s smell. The smell may match one or more of the flavors or be completely different.

Flask

This chart determines the material and shape of the potion’s flask.

d12 Description
1 Glass, Tubular, 10″ long, 1″ in diameter
2 Glass, Tubular top, 3″ long, 1″ in diameter, Spherical bottom 6″ in diameter
3 Glass, Tubular top, 3″ long, 1″ in diameter, triangular bottom 6″ on a side
4 Glass, Tubular top, 2″ long, 1″ in diameter, rectanglur bottom 6″ x 8″ x 2″
5 Steel, Tubular, 10″ long, 2″ in diameter
6 Steel, Tubular top, 3″ long, 1″ in diameter, Spherical bottom 6″ in diameter
7 Steel, Tubular top, 3″ long, 1″ in diameter, triangular bottom 6″ on a side
8 Steel, Tubular top, 2″ long, 1″ in diameter, rectanglur bottom 6″ x 8″ x 2″
9 Clay, Tubular, 10″ long, 1″ in diameter
10 Clay, Tubular top, 3″ long, 1″ in diameter, Spherical bottom 6″ in diameter
11 Clay, Tubular top, 3″ long, 1″ in diameter, triangular bottom 6″ on a side
12 Clay, Tubular top, 2″ long, 1″ in diameter, rectanglur bottom 6″ x 8″ x 2″

Examples

  1. Thick chestnut colored potion that tastes and smells like fish and tomato in a clay, tubular top, 3″ long, 1″ in diameter, Spherical bottom 6″ in diameter flask.
  2. Thin and bubbly, translucent red violet colored potion that smells like ginger and mustard and tastes like snake with a ginger and mustard aftertaste in a steel, tubular top, 3″ long, 1″ in diameter, triangular bottom 6″ on a side flask.
  3. Clumpy white potion with teal blue drops that smells like chives but tastes like pickled venison and mushrooms in a steel, tubular top, 3″ long, 1″ in diameter, triangular bottom 6″ on a side flask.

Improvements

If you’ve got ideas for more options, please post a comment and I’ll periodically make updates!

Posted in gm tips Tagged with: , , ,
7 comments on “Random Potion Description Charts
  1. mthomas768 says:

    Clearly the ‘chicken’ taste entry needs more than a single value! Everything tastes like chicken.

  2. Joe says:

    You’re right, Chicken should have a larger range. It did in an early version, but then I changed it and forgot why it should have a large range.

  3. I like this idea a lot. My former D&D campaign used this method. One piece of advice is to keep notes, or use something like the excellent charts above. My players started to have problems to decipher what potion was which when I mixed them up. Chaos magic, yes, that’s a good explanation…

  4. Another note: I really like the fact that in T&T the section on potions talk about how many of them are based on liquor, except healing potions which are based on chicken soup. Priceless!

  5. Sean Holland says:

    Very nicely done. I like how the colors are color coded!

  6. I even incorporated this post’s ideas into one of my own. Thanks!

  7. Jeff Carlsen says:

    Very cool. Though I think the color chart’s a bit longer than I would like, but then, I tend not to use random generation, but instead use these lists to make decisions. Still, very good work.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "Random Potion Description Charts"
  1. […] I was putting together my potion description charts I had a fun (for game masters anyway) idea. Many of these potions could be locked away for years or […]

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