You’re in the middle of a ferocious battle, down a few hit points, and want to toss back that potion of healing.
Is drinking a potion an action in DND?
Drinking a potion is an action in DND, as per the official rules. This requirement maintains balance during combat encounters and encourages strategic decision-making. Drinking a potion is not a bonus action, free action, or swift action. Certain class features or magic items may allow exceptions.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about actions and drinking a potion in DND.
Is Drinking a Potion an Action in DND? (Official Rules)
In Dungeons and Dragons (DND), drinking a potion is considered an action according to the official rules.
This rule can be found in the Player’s Handbook (PHB) and Dungeon Master’s Guide.
Let’s take a closer look at the specifics for each edition and explore some examples to understand how it affects gameplay.
5th Edition (5e)
In the 5th edition of DND, drinking a potion is explicitly stated as an action.
The Player’s Handbook (PHB) states:
“Drinking a potion or administering a potion to another character requires an action” (PHB, p. 154).
This means that during combat, a character must use their action to drink a potion, leaving them unable to take other actions such as attacking or casting a spell.
A level 5 Fighter engaged in combat has taken significant damage and wants to drink a potion of healing to regain some hit points.
The Fighter must use their action to drink the potion.
Which means they will not be able to attack or perform other actions during their turn.
This forces the Fighter to make a strategic decision, weighing the benefits of healing against the opportunity cost of not attacking.
In previous editions of DND, such as 3.5e and 4e, drinking a potion is also considered an action.
The rules for these editions are slightly different, but the overall concept remains the same: a character must use their action to drink a potion.
In DND 3.5e, the action economy was more complex.
Characters had a standard action, a move action, and potentially other actions depending on their abilities.
Drinking a potion in this edition required a standard action.
As it is in today’s version, the action was typically used for attacking or casting spells.
A level 7 Cleric in DND 3.5e finds themselves low on hit points during a combat encounter.
They decide to drink a potion of cure serious wounds to regain some health.
The Cleric must use their standard action to drink the potion, which means they cannot cast a spell or attack during their turn.
They can only use their move action to reposition themselves or perform other non-standard actions.
Why Is Drinking a Potion an Action in DND?
The reasoning behind making drinking a potion an action in DND is primarily to maintain balance during combat encounters.
Here are a few reasons why:
- Action Economy
- Tactical Choices
DND’s action economy is designed to keep combat encounters balanced and engaging.
Allowing players to drink potions without using an action would give them an unfair advantage and potentially disrupt the flow of combat.
Imagine a combat scenario where a Wizard can cast a powerful spell and also drink a potion of greater healing in the same turn without using an action.
This would give the Wizard an immense advantage over their opponents.
They could simultaneously deal damage and recover from any harm sustained.
By making drinking a potion an action, players are forced to make tactical decisions during combat.
They must weigh the benefits of drinking a potion against other possible actions, such as attacking or casting a spell.
A Rogue is in a dangerous situation, surrounded by enemies.
They have a potion of invisibility but must decide whether to drink it and forfeit their attack or risk staying visible and attacking an enemy.
This adds an element of strategy and decision-making to the game.
Drinking a potion during a heated battle takes time and focus.
It makes sense that doing so would consume a character’s action, representing the time and effort required to retrieve, uncork, and consume the potion.
In a realistic combat scenario, a character would likely struggle to chug a potion while simultaneously swinging a sword or casting a spell.
By requiring an action to drink a potion, the game mechanics reflect this challenge.
What Would Happen If Drinking a Potion Were Not an Action?
If drinking a potion was not an action, several issues could arise:
- Unbalanced gameplay
- Less strategic decisions
- Decreased challenge
Characters could quickly become overpowered, as they would be able to heal or gain buffs without any consequences or limitations.
A Barbarian could potentially drink multiple potions of giant strength during a single combat encounter, stacking the benefits and becoming nearly unstoppable.
This would create a significant imbalance in the game and make it less enjoyable for other players.
Less Strategic Decisions
Players would have fewer meaningful choices to make during combat.
They could simply drink potions whenever they wanted without sacrificing any actions.
With no action cost, players might stockpile and consume multiple potions during every combat encounter, trivializing challenges and reducing the need for careful planning and decision-making.
If characters can easily heal themselves or gain powerful effects without using an action, combat encounters would become less challenging and potentially less engaging.
A party facing a powerful dragon might quickly lose any sense of danger if they can freely drink potions of fire resistance and healing without using actions.
This would make the encounter less thrilling and potentially less satisfying for the players.
Is Drinking a Potion a Bonus Action?
Drinking a potion is not considered a bonus action in DND.
As stated earlier, the official rules dictate that drinking a potion requires an action.
Using a bonus action to drink a potion would give characters an extra advantage during combat, which could lead to unbalanced gameplay.
However, certain class features or magical items may allow a character to use a potion as a bonus action.
For example, the Thief subclass for Rogues has a feature called “Fast Hands.”
This allows them to use an object, such as a potion, as a bonus action. This feature is specific to the Thief subclass and is not a general rule for all characters.
A level 3 Thief Rogue is engaged in combat and has already used their action to make an attack.
Due to their “Fast Hands” ability, they can now use a potion as a bonus action, potentially healing themselves or gaining a beneficial effect without having to sacrifice their attack.
Another example could be a homebrew magic item, such as a “Potion Sipper” ring.
This item allows the wearer to consume a potion as a bonus action once per short rest.
A Bard finds a “Potion Sipper” ring during their adventure. In a later combat encounter, the Bard uses their action to cast a spell and decides to use the ring’s ability to drink a potion of heroism as a bonus action.
This gives the Bard temporary hit points and a bonus to their ability checks.
Better yet, without having to sacrifice their spellcasting action.
However, the ring can only be used once per short rest, preventing the Bard from continuously abusing this advantage.
While these examples demonstrate that certain abilities or items may allow characters to use potions as bonus actions, the general rule remains that drinking a potion requires an action in DND.
Is Drinking a Potion a Free Action?
Drinking a potion is not considered a free action in DND.
As previously mentioned, the official rules state that drinking a potion requires an action.
Allowing characters to drink potions as a free action would create significant balance issues and disrupt the action economy of the game.
A Paladin engaged in combat decides to drink a potion of speed.
If drinking the potion were a free action, the Paladin could potentially attack, cast a spell, and consume the potion all in a single turn.
This would give the Paladin a significant advantage in combat.
It would make them a highly efficient and powerful combatant without any limitations.
By requiring an action to drink a potion, DND maintains balance during combat encounters and forces players to make strategic decisions regarding when and how to use their potions.
Is Drinking a Potion an Object Interaction?
Drinking a potion can be considered an object interaction in DND, as it involves using an object (the potion).
However, this does not mean that drinking a potion is a separate type of action from a regular action.
As previously stated, the official rules dictate that drinking a potion requires an action, not a simple object interaction.
In DND, each character gets one free object interaction per turn.
This allows them to perform simple tasks with objects, such as opening a door or drawing a weapon.
However, drinking a potion is more involved than these simple tasks and requires more focus and time, which is why it is classified as an action.
A Ranger is engaged in combat and wants to drink a potion of healing to recover hit points.
While they can use their free object interaction to draw the potion from their pack, they still need to use their action to actually drink the potion.
This means the Ranger cannot attack or cast a spell during the same turn they drink the potion.
By classifying drinking a potion as an action, the game maintains balance and ensures that using potions requires strategic decision-making.
Is Drinking a Potion a Swift Action?
In DND, there is no such thing as a “swift action.”
The concept of swift actions was used in previous editions to represent quick, minor actions that characters could perform in addition to their regular actions.
In the current version of DND, the action economy has been simplified.
Swift actions have been replaced by bonus actions.
As previously mentioned, drinking a potion requires an action in DND, not a bonus action or a swift action.
This rule is in place to maintain balance during combat encounters.
And encourage strategic decision-making.
A level 6 Sorcerer is engaged in combat and wants to drink a potion of flying to gain a tactical advantage.
They must use their action to drink the potion.
Meaning, they cannot cast a spell or attack during their turn.
The Sorcerer must weigh the benefits of gaining the ability to fly against the opportunity cost of not casting a spell or attacking during their turn.
Here is a fun and entertaining video about how long it takes to drink a DND potion:
House Rules for Drinking Potions and Actions
While the official rules state that drinking a potion requires an action, some Dungeon Masters (DMs) may choose to implement house Rules to alter this mechanic.
House rules are customized rules created by DMs to enhance gameplay.
They tend to cater to the preferences of their specific group of players.
Here are some possible house rules for drinking potions as non-standard actions:
- Drinking a Potion as a Bonus Action. This house rule allows characters to drink potions as bonus actions rather than actions. This can speed up combat and allow for more dynamic encounters. However, it can also lead to unbalanced gameplay, as characters can heal or gain buffs more easily.
- Rapid Drinking Feat. This house rule introduces a new feat that allows characters to drink potions as bonus actions or swift actions (depending on the edition). By tying this ability to a feat, it becomes a choice that characters must make, sacrificing other potential feats to gain this advantage.
- Potion Toxicity. This concept introduces a risk-reward system for drinking potions. While characters can drink potions as bonus actions, each potion they consume has a chance to inflict negative side effects. These effects could range from minor inconveniences to severe consequences, balancing the benefits of faster potion consumption with the risks of overuse.
- Potion Belts. A house rule that allows characters to drink potions more quickly if they are stored in a specialized potion belt. For example, drinking a potion stored in the belt could be a bonus action, while drinking a potion from a backpack would still require an action. This rewards characters for investing in specific gear and adds an element of strategy to potion management.
- Scaling Potion Use. This house rule adjusts the action required to drink a potion based on the character’s level. For example, at lower levels, drinking a potion could be an action. But as characters gain levels, they become more adept at using potions, eventually allowing them to drink potions as bonus actions or even free actions.
It’s essential to consider the potential impact of these changes on game balance and ensure that all players are on board with the new rules.
Final Thoughts: Is Drinking a Potion an Action in DND?
When you’re not gobbling down potions in the middle of a fight with a bridge troll, you might want to know about the other items, mechanics, and monsters in DND.
Check out some of the articles listed below.
- Electrum DND: Conversions, Tips, and Ultimate Guide
- 21 Best DND Traps for Devious DMs (With Pictures)
- Skill Synergy in DND: Detailed Chart, Easy Guide & Examples