When I think of potions, I think of the many “cure light wounds” potions my characters have quaffed over the last 25 years. More than I can count. Bumps and bruises? Potion. Broken bones? Potion. Death? Well, that’s a different potion.

But recently I’ve wondered about the origins of some of those potions. So I thought it might be fun to go through and detail a few of the Mazes & Perils potions in the same way I’ve been toying with other magic items.

Each of these is described by the alchemical swindlers selling this swill…

Potion of Diminution

potion-bottlesEffect: The drinker will shrink to a height of 6” … only a couple of apples high. Effects will last 1d8 turns (determined by the GM).

“Lemme tell you a little about these potions. Call ’em what you will… some like big words like Diminution. I prefer the simpler ‘Shrinking Potion’. It was created by old Blue Eyed Gower nearly a century ago, the recipe closely guarded and passed down to only a handful of alchemists through the years. But Gower wasn’t usually one to share… until he died anyway. His reputation as a world-class thief was undisputed, but nobody knew how he could get in and out of places quickly and unseen. Turns out he had a trick up his sleeve – this potion. He’d shrink, slip past the guards, get into the tightest spaces, steal what he wanted, and use another dose if he needed it on the way out. When he finally kicked the bucket, the recipe went far and wide to all his best buddies and a crime wave like the world has never seen ran rampant. Torold the Swindler, Robin the Viper, and Claiborne the Weasel took anything from anybody and were impossible to catch. Or so they thought. So be careful. Folks are a little more wise to this trick these days, but it’s still a useful tool for the aspiring thief!”

Potion of Growth

Alice in Wonderland: Drink Me.Effect: Down this potion in one gulp and grow 30’ tall, or take half and grow to 15’. Effects will last 1d8 turns (determined by the GM).

“Oh, the Growth potion? That was paid for by Soran Cross after good old Blue Eyed Gower got done stealing him blind. Soran was not a kind man to begin with, and after his fortune was pilfered by the tiny thief, he decided he’d had enough. Using the last of his gold, he instructed his alchemist Gellex to create something so his rage would fill the sky. It took nearly a year of experimentation and some horrible accidents, but eventually Gellex came through. Soran of course killed Gellex as soon as the potion was his, but the wise alchemist knew that was his plan and set up his revenge accordingly. The potions he gave his master did indeed make him grow 30′ tall so he could terrorize the countryside. But they also made him dumb as a box of rocks and he wouldn’t be able to remember anything of his giant excursions. This phase of Soran’s reign was known as the ‘Unfortunate Period’ in the history books as the ruler managed to destroy his own castle and kill his own family in the process. It was the end of a reign of terror and the beginning of a revolt which would lead to the City States of the West…”

Potion of Haste

gladiatorThe character moves twice as fast, and doubles his normal number of attacks per round. Effects will last 1d8 turns (determined by the GM).

“Ah. Yes. Do you know why they call it ‘haste’? Because it hastens your death. Back when Vampire Lord Kalon ruled the City-State of Zhilin, the arena was the place to be unless you had to fight in it. Some of the less scrupulous among the betting crowd did their best to hedge their bets with backhanded tactics to ensure that their gladiators always had the edge. For a long time, Albrinan was the champion. Nobody knew his secret until during one bout he simply died in the center of the combat floor. Turns out his masters had been feeding him these potions for the better part of a year and reaping the rewards. They didn’t care if their pet died in the process…”

Conclusion

The “sales pitch” from your average vendor is as much a part of the process as having the actual items to sell. So having a seller fluent in the stories (whether real or imagined) for a set of items makes it a bit more organic.

I always think of the merchant (voiced by Robin Williams) at the beginning of Disney’s Aladdin.

aladdin-default“Welcome to Agrabah. City of mystery, of enchantment, and the finest merchandise this side of the river Jordan, on sale today, come on down! Heh, heh. Look at this! Yes! Combination hookah and coffee maker–also makes Julienne fries. Will not break,
(taps it on table)
will not–
(it falls apart)
–it broke. Ooohhh! Look at this!
(Pulls out Tupperware)
I have never seen one of these intact before. This is the famous Dead Sea Tupperware. Listen. (Pries it open, makes raspberry sound.)
Ah, still good.
(Camera begins to pan to right. PEDDLER hurries to catch it.)
Wait, don’t go!
(Stop pan.)
I can see that you’re only interested in the exceptionally rare…”

Heh. Always makes me smile.

But that sales pitch is a big part of bringing everything full circle.

Sure, maybe you want that potion of “Cure Light Wounds” – but wouldn’t you like to know a bit about it?

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: