There are many types of magic items. Some of them, such as weapons, get lots of attention, and it seems you can’t go ten feet without tripping over someone’s new weapon ability or a book of a hundred and one unique magic swords, for example. Others, like potions, wands, and scrolls, get no love. After all, how can they? A potion is a potion, there’s not much more to it than that.
Or is there? Today I’m going to present you with a few variations on the way that potions and scrolls work, hopefully placing these often-overlooked, utilitarian, downright boring magic items into a new light, and allowing them to seem fresh and magical again.
These powerful brews are similar to normal potions, but function slightly differently. Instead of acting as a specific spell targeting the imbiber, they instead provide the imbiber with the magical power and knowledge to cast a single, specific spell. For 1 minute after drinking the potion, the imbiber can cast the spell stored in the potion. This does not expend any spell slots, if the imbiber has them, and the imbiber need not provide any material components or focuses. The imbiber makes all decisions about casting the spell (such as the target, any modes, etc.) as though it had been prepared and cast normally. If the spell requires verbal or somatic components, the imbiber must perform them, and suffers arcane spell failure chance for any armor he is wearing if the spell requires somatic components. The spell has the same casting time it normally does: if this is longer than 1 minute, then the imbiber will be unable to cast the spell. Once the imbiber casts the spell once, the potion’s power is expended.
The process for crafting a spellpotion is identical to the process for crafting a potion, except as noted here. Because the spellpotion does not automatically target the imbiber, any spell of 3rd level or lower can be made into a spellpotion. The spell in question is specified when the spellpotion is created, and cannot later be changed. The price to purchase a spellpotion is the spell level x the caster level x 75 gp, and the cost in materials to make one is half that amount.
These potions could accurately be called cursed, although they represent more of a risk than an actual penalty. An unstable potion is identical to a normal potion except in two ways: first, the unstable potion costs only 1/3 the price that a regular potion of the same spell would cost. Second, there is only a 50% chance that, when consumed, the potion will have its intended effect. The other half of the time, it has the opposite effect of the spell it’s intended to replicate (a potion of mage armor might impose a -4 penalty to AC, a potion of reduce person might act as a potion of enlarge person, etc.). If there is no immediate and obvious means of reversing a spell’s effect, then an unstable potion that does not have its intended effect instead inflicts 1d10 points of damage per level of the spell it replicates to the imbiber.
These scrolls are highly prized by sorcerers and bards. While they do not provide the reader with the power to cast the spell contained on their surface directly, they do imprint knowledge of that spell in the reader’s mind, allowing him to use his own power to cast it. When a knowledge scroll is used, the spell it contains is added to the user’s list of spells known for 24 hours. If the user is a spontaneous caster, he can then cast the spell in the same way as any other spells he knows. If the user is a prepared caster, he can prepare the spell in an empty spell slot without referencing his spellbook. In either case, the user must still expend the necessary spell slot to cast the spell, as well as any material components, focuses, etc. Even spells that are not on the user’s spell list can be “learned” in this way, although the user must succeed on a Use Magic Device check (DC 20 + spell level) in order to do so.
The process to create a knowledge scroll is identical to the process to create a normal scroll. A knowledge scroll has the same price and cost to create as a normal scroll.
These scrolls are similar to normal scrolls, but are designed to be able to be used more than once. Even despite this extra reinforcement of the magic, it is all but impossible to create a scroll which can be used indefinitely, and even reusable scrolls eventually are consumed. A reusable scroll functions identically to a normal scroll, except that each time it is used to cast a spell (or the spell it contains is copied into a spellbook) there is only a 10% chance that the scroll is used up. This 10% chance is not cumulative.
The process to create a reusable scroll is identical to the process to create a normal scroll, except as noted here. A reusable scroll’s price is equal to the spell’s level x the caster level x 250 gp, and the cost to create one is half that.
Before you go, if you liked what you saw here, we gave the same treatment to staves in our book The Ebon Vault: Secrets of the Staff, available for $2.49 at paizo.com and drivethrurpg.com. Additionally, the Ebon Vault series has further books giving a similar face-lift and rejuvenation to swords, armor, and rings, and introducing a new magic item: the orb. Check them out, if you haven’t already.