I am DMing the D&D 5e Starter Set campaign, Lost Mine of Phandelver, for a group of my friends. They recently searched the Redbrand Hideout in Tresendar Manor in Phandalin, and searched through the wizard's workshop; among other things, they found some of his notes. The description in the adventure book (p. 25) states:

Books and Notes. Iarno is trying to master the art of brewing potions and concocting alchemical mixtures. The books and notes scattered around the room are basic texts on alchemy. Any character proficient in Arcana can see that Iarno's apparatus appears to be set up to brew potions of invisibility—not that he has succeeded so far.

In response to this, the Wizard character in the party asked if he could now make Potions of Invisibility. I initially just made up a reason why he wouldn't be able to do so (since I wasn't sure at the time – and upon rereading, it also looks like I missed the fact that the books themselves are just basic texts on alchemy, not instructions on making the potions), but he wasn't satisfied with that, and I was also personally curious as to how he would go about crafting such an item.

What would be required in order for a character to craft Potions of Invisibility?


2 Answers 2


The Dungeon Master's Guide lists "Crafting a Magic Item" as an option under "More Downtime Activities" (p. 128–129):

Magic items are the DM's purview, so you decide how they fall into the party's possession. As an option, you can allow player characters to craft magic items.

The creation of a magic item is a lengthy, expensive task. To start, a character must have a formula that describes the construction of the item. The character must also be a spellcaster with spell slots and must be able to cast any spells that the item can produce. Moreover, the character must meet a level minimum determined by the item's rarity, as shown in the Crafting Magic Items table.

The DMG then provides an example, and suggests that the DM may also require that certain items need special materials or locations in order to be made, such as alchemist's supplies to brew a certain potion.

The DMG continues:

An item has a creation cost specified in the Crafting Magic Items table (half that cost for a consumable, such as a potion or scroll). A character engaged in the crafting of a magic item makes progress in 25 gp increments, spending that amount for each day of work until the total cost is paid. The character is assumed to work for 8 hours each of those days. Thus, creating an uncommon magic item takes 20 days and 500 gp.

If a spell will be produced by the item being created, the creator must expend one spell slot of the spell's level for each day of the creation process. The spell's material components must also be at hand throughout the process.

(The halved cost for consumables is a correction stated in the DMG errata.)

The Crafting Magic Items table is as follows:

Item Rarity Creation Cost Minimum Level
Common 100 gp 3rd
Uncommon 500 gp 3rd
Rare 5,000 gp 6th
Very rare 50,000 gp 11th
Legendary 500,000 gp 17th

The potion of invisibility magic item has a rarity of "very rare", so the creation cost would be 25,000 gp (halved from 50,000 because it's a consumable) and the minimum level needed to craft it would be level 11.

Technically, the description of the potion of invisibility doesn't say it creates the effect of the invisibility spell, so any character of the relevant level could presumably craft one. (However, a DM could house-rule that it creates basically the same effect as the invisibility spell and has the same duration (without requiring concentration), and thus that it would also need to be crafted by someone who has a 3rd-level spell slot and knows the invisibility spell.)

Given that creation cost, it would take a single character of the requisite level 1,000 days to craft one potion of invisibility, spending 25,000 gp to do so.

Note that the DMG does include rules on assisting in making a magic item:

Multiple characters can combine their efforts to create a magic item if each of them meets the level prerequisite. Each character can contribute spells, spell slots, and components, as long as everyone participates during the entire crafting process. Each character can contribute 25 gp worth of effort for each day spent helping to craft the item.

So, for instance, if the character is in a party with 3 others of 11th level or higher, they can help contribute to the cost in terms of time and money (and spell slots and components if relevant). With a wizard crafting the potion and 3 other characters assisting, the total creation cost (25,000 gp) would remain unchanged but the process would only take one-fourth as long: 250 days.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Jan 21, 2018 at 1:02
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think that this answer could be improved by referencing the rules in Xanathar's Guide to Everything. \$\endgroup\$
    – nick012000
    Jun 16, 2021 at 4:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't have LMoP. Should we be concerned that Iarno is only 4th level? Are there 25K worth of materials on hand in his laboratory? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jul 29, 2022 at 5:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt there are no materials worth 25K. The adventure states he hasn’t yet succeeded, so he has no working formula and would not know it was that expensive. (Apart from those rules on costs being useless. It would have been soo much better if they had just provided a power adequate gp value for each item, like in Sane Magical Item Prices). \$\endgroup\$ Jul 29, 2022 at 20:04

Xanathar's Guide to Everything provides a new set of rules for crafting magic items on pages 128-129, which goes into more detail than the ones in the Dungeon Master's Guide.

As XGE puts it, "Creating a magic item requires more than just time, effort, and materials. It is a long-term process that involves one or more adventures to track down rare materials and the lore needed to create the item." This, in essence, brings adventuring back into the picture instead of having it be purely a downtime thing.

Step 1: The Formula

The first thing you need is a formula or recipe for the item you're working on. Your players might have already taken care of this, raiding the wizard's workshop and finding his notes. XGE doesn't give much guidance about what acquiring the formula should entail, but in past games I've negotiated with established artificers for them or come across them in libraries in the course of an adventure.

Step 2: The (Exotic) Ingredients

"An item invariably requires an exotic material to complete it." This is where the adventuring comes in. XGE suggests that the materials for a very rare item like a potion of invisibility should require facing a CR 13-18 enemy.

The simplest way to handle this is to require some body part from a creature in that CR range. Flipping through the Monster Manual, I see that a rakshasa is CR 13 and has the innate ability to turn invisible—so perhaps you need a rakshasa's claws, or eye, or something of the sort. Or you need a crystal from a particular grove in the Underdark which is infested with beholders (CR 13).

But, combat is only one option. The characters need to face some sort of threat of the appropriate CR, but that's not the same as needing to kill it. Rakshasas are intelligent, after all! You could also negotiate with one for what you need; perhaps the key ingredient is a rakshasa's breath added to the potion at the right moment. This costs nothing for the rakshasa, but a canny fiend will realize the benefits of having a party of adventurers owe them a favor, or insist they take care of some meddlesome rival first.

Step 3: The Process

Finally, you need to follow the formula and combine the special ingredients with various other mundane materials. These other components are easy enough to find, so this stage just takes time and gold.

For a very rare consumable item, the table on page 129 says it should take 12.5 workweeks (divided by the number of characters contributing to the process) and 10,000 gp worth of other components. You also need proficiency in Arcana and/or an appropriate tool; for potions, alchemist's supplies seem most fitting.

And you're done!

"If all the above requirements are met, the result of the process is a magic item of the desired sort." At the DM's discretion, there might also be a random complication (a 10% chance per five workweeks, then rolling on a table). But complication or not, you now have one (1) potion of invisibility!

Doesn't this seem like a lot of work for a single potion? Absolutely. Especially for characters at Lost Mine of Phandelver level. These rules are generally meant for permanent magic items, that you'll craft once and be done with; it's going to take a long time to stockpile potions of invisibility this way. But it's still cheaper and faster than the rules in the DMG, and incorporates some adventuring to justify that price decrease. Having played a long-running campaign as an artificer, I can say these rules feel a lot more satisfying than the DMG ones, even for consumable items.

And as a side benefit, XGE also provides new rules for selling magic items; with a decent Charisma (Persuasion) check, you can sell that potion of invisibility for up to 30,000 gold. Whether that's enough to justify the adventuring and the weeks of work that went into it is up to you, but if you have the whole party working together on it, 20k is a tidy profit!


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