Potions – Creative Writing Prompts and Story Ideas

Nothing gets you out of a pinch better than tossing back a vial of Invisibility Juice or a potion of Stone Giant Essence. You could also take a drop each of dragon vomit, faerie urine, and unicorn sweat… though I hear they each have a nasty side effect.

Check out this post for lots of ideas to infuse potions in your narratives and roleplaying games.

Story Prompts for Potions

Potions creative writing prompts roleplaying games
Characters’ lives can change with a single sip.

You can change the trajectory of a story by introducing the right concoction for your characters to contemplate drinking. For example, one sip may have them dizzily pursuing a new goal or wickedly subjected to the whims of some overlord. Clearly, potions can be boons or banes, saving your heroes or having them spiral into deeper trouble. Check out some of these ideas for storylines and situations to riff on.

  1. Premium ingredients are hard to come by. Your character is tasked with gathering some essential components for a potion maker (alchemist, scientist, wizard, guild leader, tinkerer, etc.).
  2. You paid a lot of money to a dubious dealer for a special tincture that you intended to use at a big event (speech, ceremony, competition, etc.). Now that the time has arrived, you’re not so sure you want to take it. Will it work as intended? Is this one of those irreversible bad ideas?
  3. Once every decade, the potion-seller comes to town. Now they’re here and you are near the front of the line. You’ve saved a long time for this. What will you buy and will it solve your problem or give you what you want?
  4. You’ve longed to join an organization (guild, sect, agency, gang, company, etc.) and the initiation procedures have been going well. Now, the final step. All you have to do is drink the potion that is put in front of you.
  5. You are an alchemist and you are asked by a VIP to develop a potion to solve a major problem in their life. Is it ethical? Is it even possible and do you have the skills and materials? Are you getting paid or are you forced to make the potion. Will you do an honourable job or will you sabotage them? So many story possibilities.
  6. You’re an apprentice or lab assistant and when you’re working late one night, you get a little sleepy… and clumsy. What happens when you knock over the wrong vials of liquid and they accidentally mix? Weren’t you given that trite directive: “Be careful?”
  7. Your character smells bad. After trying to get an appointment with the doctor, your character, in their impatience, decides to see a new doctor in town as they can get in a little sooner. What will they be given and will it work. Probably not, if you want a good story. 🙂
  8. Your grand parent spends a lot of time in the kitchen baking cookies and pies. One day you pop by for a surprise visit and see them drop something strange into a bubbling pot. You look around and notice other oddities on the countertop. What do they do when they see you’ve caught them making a magic potion?

Potion Forms and Components

Potion Six Hands
Six hands open up a whole mixture of potion possibilities…

Magic potions in narratives can come in all kinds of forms so we’ve really stretched out the possibilities here. See how you can spring some of these on your characters.

  • potion, elixir, drink, serum, tonic, draft,
  • medicine, tincture, essence of, infusion,
  • ointment, lotion, rub, oil, grease, lube, lubricant, salve,
  • booze, liqueur, spirit, shot, libation, spot, tip, whisky, alcohol, wine,
  • swig, swallow, gulp,
  • powder, dust, chalk, crystals,
  • snuff, chew,
  • leaves (to smoke), vape, infused tobacco, dipped cigar,
  • vapour, gas, mist, fog, cloud, puff, poof, spritz,
  • film, goo, ooze, slime, jelly, jam, yogurt, glop, blob, gum, syrup,
  • spittle, drool, saliva, blood, sweat,
  • poison, venom, toxin,
  • booster, revitalizer, stimulant, restorative,
  • suspension, mixture, concoction,
  • infused drink: coffee, tea, mate, spritzer, water, oil, rooibos, vinegar,
  • decoction, percolation, fermentation, steeping, infusion, solvent, essential oil, maceration, juice, blend, puree, processing, extraction,
  • tablet, pill, dot, tab, capsule, chews, gummies, hollow-tooth capsule,
  • sublingual, subcutaneous, ingested, injected, inhaled, ophthalmic, nasal, buccal,
  • liquid, water, oil, alcohol, fat,
  • emulsifiers, suspenders, binders, thickeners, starches,
  • chemicals, compounds, elements, minerals,
  • powders,
  • click here to redirect to MAGIC MATERIALS page in a new tab
  • dye, toner, tint, mordant, pigment, colour, oxides,
  • flavour: spice, cinnamon, pepper, mint, strawberry, espresso, maple syrup, bacon, garlic,
  • gold flakes,
  • stem, root, bark, rhizome, leaf, bud, stalk, branch, trunk, shoot, node, rootstalk, sprout, stolon, tuber, bulb, flower, blossom, petal, stamen, pollen, pistil,
  • moss, lichen, fungus, mushroom,

Effects of Potions

Potion creative writing prompts story ideas roleplaying games
Is your potion gonna do what you think it’s gonna do?

There are so many things that potions can do. When you pick an effect, you can also determine how well, or poorly, it works. Then there are the side effects as well. Beyond this, you can have a potion backfire entirely and have an effect opposite of what was expected. In a fun story, things should never really go according to plan. Haha!

  • flight, levitation, anti-gravity, float,
  • lightning fingers, flame breath (contains red dragon hormones),
  • growth, size change, shrink,
  • animate,
  • speak, tell the truth, be honest,
  • become virtuous, righteous, holy, or nasty, vile, lecherous, devious, evil,
  • itchiness, gas,
  • resurrect, bring back from dead, create undead, zombification,
  • invisibility, fading, alter form, disappear, blink out, vanishing, chameleon blend,
  • become slippery, greasy, slimy,
  • become jelly-like, gaseous, liquefied, steam,
  • dreams, vision, clairvoyance, seeing, deep sight, mind sight,
  • morph, shapeshift, change into a dragon, goblin, brownie, elf, ogre, change sex,
  • grow hair, grow extra arms, grow tail,
  • sticky climbing, cling, spider-like grip, anti-gravity,
  • dimensional travel, banish to another world,
  • teleport,
  • time travel, astral travel, space travel,
  • slow down, speed up, pause time, fast forward, rewind,
  • gain incredible musical skill, sing opera,
  • revert to infancy,
  • gain wisdom, intellect, knowledge, memory,
  • alter memory, change personality,
  • increase strength, become mighty, superhuman strength, ox-strength,
  • dinosaur skin, tough hide, armour shell
  • swim like a fish,
  • psionic powers, mental strength, mind crush, telepathy
  • improve accuracy with a bow, extreme aim, keen sight, eagle sight, read small-print on legal documents,
  • improve charisma, diplomacy,
  • gain accent, disguise,
  • grow exoskeleton, porcupine quills, spikes, horns, claws, bone protrusions,
  • mutate permanently, change temporarily,
  • see in darkness, see invisibility,
  • breathe underwater, breathe out of water (for fish),
  • super hearing, sight, smell, sense,
  • sense vibrations, heat, life, evil, good, truth, doom, violence, intention,
  • protection from evil,
  • sense magic, power, forces, mana,
  • detect water, truth,
  • revelation, realization,
  • wish, miracle,
  • become more agile, quick, sly, clever, energetic, coordinated, deft,
  • endure element or energy: cold, fire, electricity,
  • gain extreme endurance, stamina, (energy drink!)
  • jump reaaaaaaaaally far, high,
  • punch through walls, walk through walls, see through walls,
  • walk on water, clouds, air, walls, ceilings,
  • transformation, transmutation,
  • metabolize (devour, absorb, gain energy from, power up from) acid, flame, stone, steel, water, flesh of the dead,
  • metabolism slows down, go into hibernation, deep sleep, suspended animation,

And some Nasty Side Effects

What is life is too easy for your characters? This is easily solved with some potions. Have fun with the side effects. You can start by giving them a potion that seems great! Then, just when they feel confident, the side effects will emerge. They can come on immediately or appear gradually.

It’s fun, with a little planning ahead, to issue some kind of warning for the characters to consider and then probably ignore. For example, a little label or symbol on the bottle. Or have someone issue an ominous few words, or simply ask, “Are you sure you want to drink this?” This foreshadowing is a riot for the writer and a source of regret for the hapless characters.

  • odorous, smelly, stinky, bad breath, terrible B.O., skunk scent, garlic aroma,
  • itchy, flaky skin, dandruff, dry skin, pruritus, rash,
  • cursed, vexed, demon attaches itself to you, haunted, tainted,
  • cloudy eyes, droopy eye, lazy eye, near sighted, sore eyes, itchy eyes,
  • head ache, migraine, tinnitus, voices in head,
  • paralysis, catatonia,
  • intense CRAVING, desire, need,
  • hallucinations, visions, tripping out,
  • black out, memory loss, total amnesia, temporary forgetfulness, distractedness,
  • irritability, angry bouts, mood change, Jekyll and Hyde effect,
  • burning sensation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,
  • face looks like a Picasso painting for several hours, skin turns bright blue,
  • out of breath, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, panic attack, anxiety, INSANITY
  • opposite of desired potion effect afterwards (ie. enlarging potion causes shrinkage; flying potion causes heavy sense of gravity; etc.)
  • loss of smell, hearing, sense of direction, sense of pain, speaking ability,
  • the character begins to take on the mannerisms of a particular animal from which one of the potion components came,
  • Check out this page of MORE MAGICAL SIDE EFFECTS HERE to stretch your potion possibilities.

Potion Containers

Delicious potions!

You can put potions in practically anything, but here are a few cool words that may inspire you. At the end of the list is a link to a page we have all about containers so you can get even more ideas. Enjoy!

  • vial, jar, bottle, nip, clay vessel, phial, horn, flask,
  • shot glass, cup, chalice, grail, goblet, mug,
  • skin, canteen, thermos, canister, cruet, bota bag, bladder,
  • carafe, decanter, urn, pitcher, jug, demijohn, flagon, ewer,
  • keg, vat, tun, tub, tube, tuba, tuber (hollowed out like a gourd), decorated dried gourd,
  • coconut, hollowed out tree branch, wooden vessel, reed tube, hollow bamboo,
  • box, container, bin,
  • holster, sheath, belt, leather thong, tie,
  • shapes: conical, oblong, like an “o”, tubular, bulbous, teardrop,
  • Check out our Cre8opedia page here for more CONTAINER ideas

Specific Potions to try out…

Just for fun, we’ve generated a few potions for your enjoyment. Use these as models to design your own potions with clever names and profound or silly effects.

  • Draft of the Hammerhand – when a character drinks this potion, their hand turns into a hammer (or other weapon; just change the name)
  • Burbol’s Floating Elixir – Burbol (or some other wizard) concocted this drink to enable him to float over the surrounding lands so he could do some cool aerial sketches and mapping. Very handy, indeed.
  • Potion of Sunlight – drinking this makes a character glow like daylight… useful in the dark places of the world.
  • Figuro’s Secret Door Ointment – rub a little on a cave wall and you can walk right through it!
  • Canteen of Endless Water – great potion to have with you in the desert… or if you’re eating a giant bag of really salty popcorn.
  • Sanity Potion… this crazy world needs a whole lot of the sanity potion! Distribute liberally… especially in rush hour traffic.
  • Pork Pie Dye – “Pork Pie” is Cockney Slang for a “lie”, so this potion enables you to lie about everything. Great if you’ve been out late and have to pull one over on the missus.

More Potion Ideas and Notes

potions creative writing prompts story ideas
Mix up your story with a mix of potions.
  • A potion can be a single drink for effect or may contain several “doses”. And remember that the amount consumed can vary the effect to be expected; do you take a sip or slam the whole thing back?
  • Mixing potions of various kinds can be fun in a narrative… For example, I wonder what happens when you drink a shrinking potion and an enlarging potion at the same time: small head, big hands?
  • Imagine all the things that could go wrong in a lab where the mixing takes place. For instance, the characters making the concoctions can have all kinds of motivations and distractions of their own that can lead to entertaining problems. With this in mind, have fun blowing up or melting down some stuff or creating similarly drastic accidents.
  • In addition to everything else, don’t forget to flavour your potions. Make the nasty ones taste great and the most epic ones taste awful. Add spices and herbs and a splash of Tabasco sauce.
  • If you’re roleplaying, be sure to mix up some actual drinks for your players to shoot back when their characters drink potions. This is a lot of fun!