Can you feed potions to animal companions?


Rules Discussion


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I know that animal companions can't generally use or activate magical items, but if you're the one activating it, then pouring it down their throat, can they benefit from it?

In particular, I'm thinking of having some potions of leaping for my steed to allow for some mobility options, or healing them when they're dying.


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I don't see why not. Activating a potion is either drinking it yourself or administering it. No item use on the recipients part.

Horizon Hunters

Potions of Healing and Spider Climb are both very usefull to an Animal Companion.


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Ravingdork wrote:

I know that animal companions can't generally use or activate magical items, but if you're the one activating it, then pouring it down their throat, can they benefit from it?

In particular, I'm thinking of having some potions of leaping for my steed to allow for some mobility options, or healing them when they're dying.

It seems clear to me that you can activate the potion yourself while you feed it to your animal companion.

CRB, p. 562 wrote:

Potions

A potion is a magical liquid that is activated when you drink it, which uses it up. Potions have the potion trait. You can activate a potion with an Interact action as you drink it or feed it to another creature. You can feed a potion only to a creature that is within reach and willing or otherwise so helpless that it can’t resist. You usually need only one hand to consume a potion or feed it to another creature.

I suppose that the question is whether the companion can benefit from them.

CRB, p. 604 wrote:

Companion Items

You might want to acquire items that benefit an animal or beast that assists you. These items have the companion trait, meaning they function only for animal companions, familiars, and similar creatures. Normally these are the only items a companion can use. Other items can qualify, at the GM’s discretion, but an animal can never Activate an Item.

So it seems that the companion can't use a potion without specific GM discretion.

But I think that aobst128 is correct that if you are the one who activated the potion, then you are the one who used it — not the companion.

CRB, p. 533 wrote:
Consumables (page 559) are used up when you activate them, and include ammunition, oils, potions, scrolls, and talismans, among others.

If you used up the potion when you activated it while you poured it down the companion's throat then it seems to me that the companion didn't use the potion.

Horizon Hunters

I don't see what's different from pouring a Potion of Healing down the throat of a downed party member and the throat of a downed animal companion...

Personally, I would be surprised if a judge questioned the use of a potion on an AC.


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Anne Archer wrote:

I don't see what's different from pouring a Potion of Healing down the throat of a downed party member and the throat of a downed animal companion...

Personally, I would be surprised if a judge questioned the use of a potion on an AC.

From an in world perspective, you are right. But from a rule perspective, it's very different. For example, if your Familiar with Master Form pours a potion down your throat the potion doesn't have any effect.

Gisher, you forgot this sentence: "A potion is a magical liquid activated when you drink it, which uses it up."
There's a problem with potions as there are 2 sentences speaking of how you activate them and they are not exactly synonyms. Elixirs don't have this issue.

Overall, I think the consensus is Gisher's interpretation, that the sentence I've quoted is more of an introduction than a strict rule. Also, I don't think anyone wants to look at an Animal Companion dying with a potion at hand...


SuperBidi wrote:
From an in world perspective, you are right. But from a rule perspective, it's very different. For example, if your Familiar with Master Form pours a potion down your throat the potion doesn't have any effect.

Exactly. That's in line with the assumption that it is the pourer who is using the item.

SuperBidi wrote:

...

Gisher, you forgot this sentence: "A potion is a magical liquid activated when you drink it, which uses it up."
There's a problem with potions as there are 2 sentences speaking of how you activate them and they are not exactly synonyms. Elixirs don't have this issue.

Overall, I think the consensus is Gisher's interpretation, that the sentence I've quoted is more of an introduction than a strict rule.
...

I didn't actually forget that sentence; I included it in my quote.

The book uses similar wording in other places like the potion trait...

CRB, 635 wrote:
potion (trait) A potion is a magical liquid activated when you drink it. 562–564

and in the sidebar on page 533...

CRB, 533 wrote:
• Potions (page 562) are consumable magical liquids you drink to activate.

I hold that all of those statements are true. A potion is activated and used up when you drink it. But it isn't exclusively activated that way. Nowhere does the book say that "A potion is a magical liquid which can only be activated when you drink it."

In fact the book specifically states that you can activate it yourself while feeding it to another creature, and it does so on page 562 which both of those quotes cite. Clearly, the two methods of activation are both legal.

I think the bigger gray area is what it means to 'use' a magic item. My contention here is that both methods of activation immediately use up the potion, so there isn't any potion left for the companion to 'use' even though they are gaining the benefits of that potion.


Gisher wrote:
I hold that all of those statements are true. A potion is activated and used up when you drink it. But it isn't exclusively activated that way. Nowhere does the book say that "A potion is a magical liquid which can only be activated when you drink it."

That's a mathematical way of reading the sentence, but not a natural language one. In natural language, when you state something like that you imply that it's the only way of doing it. Actually, nothing states that potions can only be activated when you drink or feed it but still if a GM allows to activate potions in an alternate way you'll consider that a house-rule and not a perfectly acceptable interpretation of RAW.

Anyway, it's not really important as I agree with you it's the general consensus.


SuperBidi wrote:

Actually, nothing states that potions can only be activated when you drink or feed it but still if a GM allows to activate potions in an alternate way you'll consider that a house-rule and not a perfectly acceptable interpretation of RAW.

Reading the herbalist's Poultice Preparation feat, as well as for the oil trait, I think that drinking/feeding ( being feeded too ) a potion is the only way.

Apart from drinking or applying a consumable, I can't find of any other way to deal with it ( reason why potions are required to be ingested ).


HumbleGamer wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:

Actually, nothing states that potions can only be activated when you drink or feed it but still if a GM allows to activate potions in an alternate way you'll consider that a house-rule and not a perfectly acceptable interpretation of RAW.

Reading the herbalist's Poultice Preparation feat, as well as for the oil trait, I think that drinking/feeding ( being feeded too ) a potion is the only way.

Apart from drinking or applying a consumable, I can't find of any other way to deal with it ( reason why potions are required to be ingested ).

That was my point :)

The only methods available are the ones described in the book even if nowhere it is specified that they are the only ones as this is implied.


SuperBidi wrote:
Gisher wrote:
I hold that all of those statements are true. A potion is activated and used up when you drink it. But it isn't exclusively activated that way. Nowhere does the book say that "A potion is a magical liquid which can only be activated when you drink it."

That's a mathematical way of reading the sentence, but not a natural language one. In natural language, when you state something like that you imply that it's the only way of doing it. Actually, nothing states that potions can only be activated when you drink or feed it but still if a GM allows to activate potions in an alternate way you'll consider that a house-rule and not a perfectly acceptable interpretation of RAW.

Anyway, it's not really important as I agree with you it's the general consensus.

I disagree that only one of the two interpretations presented (Gisher's and not yours) is "a mathematical way of reading the sentence, but not a natural language one." as there isn't really "a" natural language way of reading the sentence. It very much depends on context and what the reader is expected to understand / think about the situation. Saying that "this is what this sentence means" is already very limiting if we're talking about "natural language".

The explanation Gisher gave may have been a very structured way of looking at it, but really he was only pointing out the lack of structure, saying that if they wanted it to be a strict "this is exactly how it should be read" kind of deal, then it would have to be written in a very structured way, mentioning explicitly that it can "only" be activated in such a way, as that leaves a lot less interpretation to the reader.

As it stands there are multiple ways of reading the sentence, which unfortunately suffers from having some of what I like to call "invisible words" that the reader is seemingly supposed to fill in. The sentence "A potion is a magical liquid activated when you drink it" could mean
1. A potion is a magical liquid typically activated by drinking it
2. A potion is a magical liquid which can only be activated when you drink it
3. A potion is a magical liquid and one of the ways to activate it is by drinking it
And probably a couple others that I can't think of off the top of my head.

And when there are multiple ways of interpreting a sentence in natural language it can become problematic to say that only one of those interpretations is valid (in this case your claim that only the 2nd option is valid) because it can lead to exactly these kinds of questions that you yourself claim should be resolved with a simple "just let it happen anyway" ruling, whereas from my perspective it's not even "let it happen" as much as it is "well, yeah, that makes sense, so I'm going to assume that's what they meant and not insert a strict definition and stick to it regardless of how strange of a scenario it puts me in."


The discussion strongly shifted but I like the new topic.

I agree with you and modify my position. Stating that "A potion is a magical liquid activated when you drink it" carries an implication about alternate ways of activating a potion, the strength of the implication depending on the context (as you pointed out with your 3 interpretations).

I qualified Gisher's interpretation of "mathematical reading" because it supposes no implications, which is definitely closer to computer/mathematical language than to natural one.

Do you agree now?

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