Are your potions colour coded?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

Scarab Sages

Just a random thought in regards to PC potions generally being red = healing, blue = mana, etc. Do you colour code your potions e.g. all healing potions are a red colour with the more potent the healing the deeper the red? Do you have them all a clear liquid? Do you vary them depending on source/purpose e.g. all healing potions from a druid have the same plants floating in them while healing potions from the temple are a clear liquid that shimmers faintly with golden light? Something else?


I haven't really done this, but I like the flavour (pun intended).

I've been flavouring the implements (spell-schools) on my Occultist:
- Abjuration = Holy magic
- Conjuration = posessed brazier (haunted implement)
- Divination = Internal psychic sensitivity
- Transmutation = Blood magic

These kinds of details are often overlooked or intentionally skipped just to save time/effort/book-keeping. I don't think it's something that you'd enforce, but it's something that can really help people get into character if you put in a little effort.

Keen to see what people have done.


I used to have a couple of tables to roll on for potion colours and descriptions, so you might get an effervescent chartreuse potion or a cloudy crimson potion. No correlations though.


Perception wrote:
Identify the powers of a potion through taste = 15 + the potion‘s caster level

I don't color code but I flavor code, if players in my games actually use this skill check. 9 times out of 10 at least 1 PC in my game has Detect Magic at the ready as well as Knowledge: Arcana and Spellcraft, so I don't run into this that much, but if I do I try to give common potions a unique bouquet or flavor that the players can identify.

This is one of the reasons players hate Mites in my game, at low levels. Once, a few years ago, 4 level 1 PCs happened upon a potion they thought smelled very faintly of cherry syrup (Cure Light Wounds) but in fact it was a vial of poisoned wine instead. The Mites had used Prestidigitation on several of these potions to "prank" their enemies with.

The Ranger drank one, failed the initial save, suffered 2 Dex damage, then made the save and was fine, but they never forgot how a simple Prestidigitation caused so much havoc. Good times.


Nope.
Potions and their ingredients vary depending on who makes them, and depending on circumstances the same potion made by the same person may not look and taste the same. One healing potion may be clear and fragrant and taste like ice cream while another is muddy, tastes of rotting cucumbers and leaves a silty film in the mouth and throat.

Taste-testing potions doesn't work because of flavor, it works because you get a very minor feel of the effect, like an insignificant cut healing or your hair standing on end (Fly).


Yes and no

If it's a relatively common store bought potion made based on some common recipe, then it will likely look, smell, and taste like all other potions of the same kind.

But a potion found in a dusty dungeon, made using who knows what kind of ancient formula, from strange ingredients that might not even exist anymore? You might want to have means of identification handy.


Colour coding feels like a human invention. Anyone with darkvision would probably prefer different forms or labels.


Spellcaster (Read: non-alchemist) created potions are enchanted, not brewed. Thus I think they all look (and taste) like ordinary water by default. Some exceptions like Cayden made potions that are alcoholic would exist, but not be the standard.

Alchemist/Investigator-made potions are an entirely different question. They'd definitely have some consistency across creators (same formula, same results), though multiple formulas might produce mechanically identical effects and some non-active ingredients may tint the creation.


deuxhero wrote:
Spellcaster (Read: non-alchemist) created potions are enchanted, not brewed. Thus I think they all look (and taste) like ordinary water by default. Some exceptions like Cayden made potions that are alcoholic would exist, but not be the standard.

Magic is not colorless, so I would assume that potion would at least take on a color most commonly associated with the magic school used to make it (same color that pings with detect magic... which are never specified so it's entirely up to the DM what color responds to what school)


Yeah the actual rules for this are that you can decide small details like this yourself - it's between you and your GM.

I think having Red = Healing, Blue = Whatever would be a little contradicted by the rules for identifying potions, but as long as your group doesn't mind it's hardly a game-breaking house-rule.

The Exchange

well... often I will color code he BOTTLES, or at least the caps - but then I will also often mark them with a dot pattern similar to braille. Though I will normally make this pattern/code unique to the Alchemist.

And I have been known to mark my personal potions WRONG. Anyone pulling potions off my corpse shouldn't go by what the little label says they are...
Something to consider when looking for flavors....

with a name like “Bigby’s Crushing Thirst Destroyer.” - got to love it!


I usually let my players who brew potions determine the details and then try to stay within that vein. A potion of Bull's Strength tastes like limes? Maybe Bear's Endurance tastes like lemon. Invisibility tastes like peppermint? Maybe Blur tastes like spearmint. Cure spells that are thick, viscous oils you rub into wounds, which forcefully and painfully regenerate? Guess Lesser Restoration and Remove Disease aren't going to be particularly pleasant salves, either.

It's a great little detail that makes potions more interesting and gets people more invested in the world around them.

I had a player who wanted to play a dwarven "brewmaster" (a.ka., a PC-version of the adept. This was before alchemists and such). All of his potions--all of his spells, in fact--where different kinds of liquor. From the icy silvermead to his world-renowned dübbldark ale.


I carry a large assortment of metal flasks with glyphs (nonmagical) carved into the bottle to indicate what is in the flask. Although it isn't terribly difficult to keep track of, as most of my potions are either after fight healing potions and those stay in my backpack, in combat healing in a belt pouch or buff (usually enlarge person) in the other belt pouch.


I would think a smart potion maker would at least color them with food coloring, as makes them a lot easier to identify in a hurry (i.e, during combat), than just putting labels on them (which would make the owner have to stop and read each one while fighting to make sure they drink the right one.)


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

When I GM, I always give a simple adjective describing something magical or appraise-worthy: a "forked wand", a "green gem", a "clear potion", a "fur-trimmed cloak," etc. That's so, ten sessions later when the party finally gets around to identifying/appraising stuff scrawled almost indecipherably on their inventory sheets, I can do a "find" through my notes to see what that something was supposed to be (before implementing this system, we would often have long conversations along the lines of "I think maybe it's the wand I got from the ogre's cave? No wait, I sold that one--maybe it's the one from the evil wizard?" etc. etc.)

There's not necessarily consistency in what the adjectives mean though, so a "yellow potion" found at level 1 could be healing and a "yellow potion" found at level 12 could just as easily be poison.

Scarab Sages

Hmmm Schroedingers wand it may heal you or it may blast you in the face with magic missiles you don't know till you use it.


My own take is that potions made by the same person should be consistent. So when you run into 8 gnoll guards who all have 2 different potions and you identify that one guard has a potion of cure light wounds and a potion of bark skin, the other 7 guards worth of visually identical potions are probably the same.

And if you ran into any other gnolls carrying the same potions in the same dungeon they probably look identical too.

But when you run into a different pack of gnolls in a different place they are carrying potions that don't look the same because they came from a different source.

Color should be meaningless. Glowing should be meaningless. One slightly glowing red potion could be healing, or dragon breath elixir, or flight, or anything else I think would go well with red this week.

Sure invisibility goes well with a translucent potion. But why not white? Or black? Or a potion of swirling colors? Or just green, thick and slightly smoking? Appearance doesn't have to follow function.

Scarab Sages

Meirril wrote:

My own take is that potions made by the same person should be consistent. So when you run into 8 gnoll guards who all have 2 different potions and you identify that one guard has a potion of cure light wounds and a potion of bark skin, the other 7 guards worth of visually identical potions are probably the same.

And if you ran into any other gnolls carrying the same potions in the same dungeon they probably look identical too.

But when you run into a different pack of gnolls in a different place they are carrying potions that don't look the same because they came from a different source.

Color should be meaningless. Glowing should be meaningless. One slightly glowing red potion could be healing, or dragon breath elixir, or flight, or anything else I think would go well with red this week.

Sure invisibility goes well with a translucent potion. But why not white? Or black? Or a potion of swirling colors? Or just green, thick and slightly smoking? Appearance doesn't have to follow function.

It can though as magic spells generally have rules they follow. A magic spell is a repeatable formula to achieve a specific result. So a specific method of making a potion would produce the same result while a different method will present a different result. So while all healing potions may not be red (they can be blue or yellow or rainbow with each individiaul band retaining its own colour or a cloudy substance with herbs floating in it) they presumably would all be reasonable similar as varying it too much will result in a different potion. Take Coke one recipe gives its all still coke but recipe variations can make it clear or give it a lemon taste but change the recipe too much and instead of coke you get Solo.

The Exchange

Bottle shape. Cap design, And Braille markings - so I can identify them by touch, without looking at them. And I don't have to worry about them changing color due to ageing or the esp. chaotic nature of magic that causes them to shift in form (bubbly and blue today, lime green and thick tomorrow).

It's great to do the ID by color - but not so good if you need to do it with Darkvision...

Scarab Sages

Well the colour wasn't intended for ID purposes. You could afterall be keeping them in an opaque vial or bottle.


I wonder what percent of gaming groups consistently wait to ID potions and also do so without using Detect Magic or the Identify spell alongside Knowledge: Arcana and Spellcraft?

I ask b/c I have 2 different groups I run games for and all three use the spells and skills, ID'ing potions and other magic items almost immediately after they're found.

Unless monsters/villains are bearing down on the party after a fight, as soon as combat wraps there's a series of Perception checks, followed by the collection of all possible valuables from the fallen enemies and the immediate surroundings coupled with the casting of Detect Magic which someone always keeps handy from level 1 on.

Once the spell is cast, essentially another 20 seconds of the characters' lives go by as one person IDs the magic item(s) found and the rest of the party makes sure they aren't getting ambushed. I tell the players what they've found, one player generally keeps a log of the loot and then if useful consumables like potions are in said loot they're distributed immediately according to need. If there's a potion of Bull's Strength for example, that generally goes to the paladin or the druid to administer it to their lion AC.

This is the norm, with not IDing or identifying items on the fly without magic is the exception.


No.

Heck, most of my potions aren't even liquid.

Jon Brazer Enterprises

Tan, dun, light brown, beige, desert sand, light umber, wood brown, ... ;)


blahpers wrote:

No.

Heck, most of my potions aren't even liquid.

Queen B-laphers, I'm guessing your potions are actually all bland, odorless, tasteless beige wafers with uniform dimensions and no discernable markings whatsoever, kept mixed and loose in an unmarked pouch, and as you level you add spells like Mystic Aura or Nondetection to each individual one so they can never be identified, right?

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / General Discussion / Are your potions colour coded? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.