Potions (DMG, page 139): Drinking a potion or administering a potion to another character requires an action.

Here it says "to another character", not "to an ally". Does this mean that by RAW you could force feed a Potion of Poison to an enemy without any roll?

I don't think that would make sense. But a scenario like this came up in one of my games and I wasn't sure how to handle that. I told the player that he would have to grapple the enemy first, then succeed on another grapple check with disadvantage, in order to force the enemy to drink the potion.

Are there any rules concerning such a maneuver? How could I have decided better?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I would consider cutting out how you handled it and making it an answer so I could upvote it :). (By changing the question to: "Are there any rules? How could I rule on it?") \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2018 at 13:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think it is a duplicate tho. That question was "can you force-feed an enemy in combat", and this one asks "do rules as written say you can do it without any checks". \$\endgroup\$
    – enkryptor
    May 4, 2018 at 18:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @enkryptor: yes, I think so too. But what can I do against the wisdom of othzer users? \$\endgroup\$
    – hohenheim
    May 7, 2018 at 7:08

4 Answers 4


What is Administering

Administering a potion to a willing party is much different than force-feeding an enemy.

Administering means (dictionary definition):

  • dispense or apply (a remedy or drug).
  • give help or service.


Force-feeding an unwilling person a potion, I'd argue, is a lot more involved than "administering" a potion.

Rules About Forcing a Potion

There aren't any rules concerning this, but D&D rules don't aim to solve every edge case. How to handle improvised actions, which are a lot of good D&D, is up to the DM.

For DMs making a reasonable ruling for this sort of thing, consider what it is like in reality, and what rules you already have.

Having a child and a dog who sometimes need to take medicine they don't want to take, I can tell you that in reality, it is more difficult and time-consuming than it seems.

There are rules for grappling, which seems like a first step or similar action to forcing someone's mouth open. I could see some kind of save from the person to see if they could spit the liquid out. So, I likely would have ruled the same way you did.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is the exact same answer you gave on the linked question. If you think my question isa duplicate, then your answer is one as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – hohenheim
    May 7, 2018 at 7:15

The rules don't say you can do it

In general, "A requires B" does not mean "A does not require C". It only means that A requires B.

Drinking a potion or administering a potion to another character requires an action.

RAW, that does not mean administering a potion doesn't require anything else. Aside from spending an action, at very least, you also need:

  • To be near the character
  • To have the potion itself
  • To be able to feed the potion to the character

For instance, if you don't have a potion, or the character is 60 ft away, or your your hands are tied up behind your back, you cannot do this.

There are plenty of interesting situations that can emerge in your games. It is impossible to list them all in the rules, the final decision is always up to the DM. That is what we have DMs for.


RAW, there is no roll

Following on from the tradition that things only do what they say, there is no roll and seeing as it says "another character", that could indeed mean an enemy NPC.

However, I would rule it the same as you and ask for a grapple check first and then another check of some kind to force-feed the potion.


"X requires an action" is not the same as "Using an action you can do X". This rule does not mean that the attempt automatically succeeds, but is meant to differentiate this from a free object interaction. The books, however, do not offer any rules for this exact situation, so it falls back to:

When you describe an action not detailed elsewhere in the rules, the DM tells you whether that action is possible and what kind of roll you need to make, if any, to determine success ar failure. (PHB 192)

Depending on the circumstances a call for one or more ability checks or contests is reasonable. I find what you describe in your question appropriate.


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