Characters in Dungeons & Dragons 5E have many different abilities to call on in combat, so magic items aren’t as crucial to the game as they used to be. The exception is the temporary one-use items, like potions and spell scrolls, which provide a needed extra boost of power or healing when used. The rules regarding potions have been a bane of contention among fans, to the point where a popular house rule makes them easier to use, and Wizards of the Coast should incorporate it into the game’s next version.
What The Rules Say About Using Potions In DnD 5E
According to the D&D 5E Dungeon Master’s Guide and Player’s Handbook, using a magical potion of any kind costs an Action. This is true whether the potion is being used on another character or if the user is drinking it themself. It bears mentioning that using a potion isn’t covered under the Use an Object special action that sometimes comes up. This means that the Thief subclass for Rogues cannot drink potions as a Bonus Action as part of their Cunning Action class feature update, turning them into the potion master class.
The Common House Rule Involving Potions That Most Players Use In DnD 5E
It’s a common house rule in D&D 5E for drinking a potion to be a Bonus Action when used on yourself. This means that the character can still perform a regular Action that turn, such as attacking with a weapon or casting a spell, but they cannot take a Bonus Action. In exchange for healing, they would remove their ability to do things like attack with an off-hand weapon on their turn.
The benefit of this approach is that it makes the party more likely to survive combat encounters, as they can get small amounts of healing back in exchange for minor actions. This house rule is beneficial for smaller groups and groups without any dedicated healer characters, as the party has more avenues for health restoration in the middle of combat when they really need it.
One way to balance this rule is for characters to have a couple of specific easy-access slots, similar to how video games like the old Baldur’s Gate titles used to handle potions and scrolls so that they can only reach 2-5 potions during battle. Once the potions in these slots are used up, then it takes a full Action to grab one from their pack.
While the house rule supports potion drinking as a Bonus Action for the user, most agree that using a potion on someone else should still take an Action. This is because it would otherwise make combat a little bit too easy, and it ensures that a downed ally is still a significant issue, rather than something that can be fixed quickly on the next round.
The rules for the upcoming updated iteration of D&D are still being outlined, and fans have been able to submit feedback through surveys distributed as part of One D&D. As of the time of writing, most of the rule changes have involved character classes and races, with the nitty-gritty of combat and Actions taking a backburner. When the time comes, fans can press Wizards of the Coast to make the Bonus Action potion rule part of the game to incorporate it into the 2024 revision of D&D 5E.