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My party has ended up in a ship in the middle of the ocean. One of us has motion sickness and I have proficiency in Medicine. I was wondering if I could use this and some ingredients to make some tea to help them. It won't affect much really, we are not in battle or anything, just going from point A to B, and even if they remain sick, they could fight regardless. It would only be for social purposes. Thanks for the help, have a great day :)

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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you read Chapter 7 in the Basic Rules, or in the Players Handbook? \$\endgroup\$ May 14 at 17:11

4 Answers 4

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How to use ability checks

From Chapter 1, Players Handbook, page 6 "How to Play"

  1. The DM describes the Environment
  2. The Players describe what they want to do
  3. The DM narrates the result of the adventure

Sometimes dice are rolled between steps 2 and 3.

The environment is already set, as described in your question.
All you have to do is tell your DM what intend to do (step 2). You'll either get "Yes, you make a soothing tea" or the DM will have you roll an ability check with a DC set at a number (I am guessing between 10-15?) and see if your tea is successful.

Or, the DM may, for plot reasons not yet revealed to you, narrate that your attempt is a failure. Despite your best efforts, your party member remains seasick. You may need to find another cure. This may lead to an adventure, or it may lead to dealing with/bargaining with other NPCs to get your hands on a medicine or cure for seasickness.

There is no single, "right" answer to this.

Would I require an ability check?

I am not your DM, but situations similar to this arise in the games that I do DM. I'd probably not call for a roll, or I'd call for a roll with a DC of 10 if the severity of the seasickness is brought on by something in-game.

  • Work with your DM.

  • Also, familiarize yourself with Chapter 7 of the Players Hand Book (or the Basic Rules, Chapter 7). A good explanation of how ability checks work is in there.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Given herbalism kits exist I am not entirely sure it is as simple as understanding the skills section, there can be a good bit of crossover and lack of clarity \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    May 14 at 20:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ I see no mention of the herbalism kit in the question @SeriousBri \$\endgroup\$ May 14 at 23:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ But given that is used to make potions, can the medicine skill? An answer that doesn't talk about the herbalism kit can't be complete. Otherwise I might be asking about a strength check to hit someone and become I didn't mention attack roll you would leave it out of an answer? \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    May 15 at 9:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Think about it another way, how will player 3 - who isn't mentioned but invested in herbalism kit proficiency - feel when the medicine skill gets to create a healing remedy? \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    May 15 at 9:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri As soon as player 3 is a part of the question, then it is an issue. The question doesn't bother to describe the party. Maybe you ought to be nagging the asker, aka Hope, and not me. \$\endgroup\$ May 15 at 15:36
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This is simply an 'Ask your DM' scenario.

If the DM intends that the motion sickness may have an impact on combat, etc then they may say no, but if it's just a character building, social interaction then I think most DM's wouldn't object.

Note that I'm basing my answer on 'real world' knowledge here. Making a tea is not difficult and medieval people would all have had a basic knowledge of simple things like 'nettle' or 'pine' tea (literally, stinging nettles in hot water!)

I would ask the DM in the following way:

  1. Is it possible my character has knowledge which could help alleviate the motion sickness?
  2. Can I now try and make the tea? (note this is tea, not a potion, it's pretty simple)

If possible discuss with them out of session that you want to do this, maybe it then becomes part of your backstory (for example "I was often sick as a child but my mother used to make the most delicious teas for me to drink"). You could even use this as an opportunity to diversify your skills, maybe start learning some herbalism skills.

I'd recommend you have a look at sources like 'Dump Stat Adventures'. They have some useful skills expansions which develop things like herbalism, chefs tools and so on. If your DM is willing, these could prove useful.

Above all, discuss with your DM and don't be upset if they say 'no'.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Your last sentence is worth its weight in gold pieces. 😁 \$\endgroup\$ May 16 at 15:53
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Normally, you would use herbalism for that, but check with your DM

The Medicine skill is described on page 178, PH. It says

Medicine.A Wisdom (Medicine) check lets you try to stabilize a dying companion or diagnose an illness.

You are not alone in trying to find some use for this: Is there a real use for the medicine skill?

As written, medicine does let you diagnose sea sickness, but does not explicitly allow you to prepare a curative herbal brew. That would normally fall under proficiency with the Herbalism Kit:

Herbalism Kit. […] Proficiency with this kit lets you add your proficiency bonus to any ability checks you make to identify or apply herbs.

That said, the things listed under the skills are examples (p. 171 PH)

The skills related to each ability score are shown in the following list. […] See an ability’s description in the later sections of this chapter for examples of how to use a skill associated with an ability.

So check with your DM. Even though there is an explicit kit proficiency for what you aim to do, Medicine is not one if the most useful skills the way it is written (especially since with a simple 5 gp healer's kit, anyone can stabilize a creature without needing to make a Wisdom (Medicine) check.) It may be that your DM also recognizes this and interprets what medicine can do more broadly. I would.

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Just making tea with ingredients that you have should be simple, and typically won't require a check, but it's up to the DM.

If you don't have ingredients, that's a little more complicated.

And making it "for social purposes" is wonderful. That really helps add dimension to the game for everyone.

Anyone can attempt to make tea

. . . assuming they have ingredients.

If a character happens to be carrying ingredients, making tea should be simple.

Player: "I'm carrying some mint and lavender. I make some tea."

In games I'm in, this sort of thing often happens during a sort of almost free-form conversation. The party makes camp and someone says, "I make tea", or "I brush my cat", or something else that doesn't have any mechanical benefit.

It's unlikely the DM will even ask for any kind of check, if hot water and ingredients are available, and all that is being attempted is steeping the ingredients in the water, especially if its routine.

Getting those ingredients

Maybe you already have the ingredients

Generally players in our group will add trivialities (like mint and lavender) to their character sheet at an appropriate time. Typically the DM is rarely concerned about minor items like that, but likes for players to have already added whatever to their sheets. So, at character creation or if there's some spare time in a town or city the player will add it and mention it.

Player: Hey, I added some mint and lavender to my inventory. I subtracted half a silver.

A short dialog might ensue. Perhaps the player wants mint, and lavender, and chamomile, and cinnamon. The DM might say, hmm, sure, but you have to hunt around a bit to find a shop that has what you want. Or, well, this town is too small to have what you want.

We generally prefer playing Dungeons and Dragons to playing Shopping and Supplies, so usually anything like shopping is handled pretty quickly, but some sort of complication is always possible.

Maybe you would like to have already had the ingredients

Occasionally a player will retcon. "Hey, back when we were in that town, can I have picked up some tea ingredients? Some mint and lavender?

Sometimes the DM will say sure. But that's a slippery slope. Too much retconning and you kind of lose the moment. I know when I'm DMing I really want the PCs to do in-town stuff when they're in town, not half a session later. I try to be flexible though. But we generally consider retconning to be poor form, especially if there's a mechanical advantage. Players will rarely even ask.

Maybe you'd like to forage the ingredients

Since foraging at sea is unlikely (at least in your case, I think), this is outside the scope of your question, but a player might want to find tea ingredients in a suitable place, perhaps the woods.

Player: Since we have a few hours to kill while we're waiting here in the woods, can I find mint, lavender, and chamomile?

DM: Do you have any reason to know how to find those?

Player: Umm, I learned from the village herbalist when I was a kid?

DM: Sure, I'll allow it. Since you have some time, and those things grow in this sort of forest, you don't even have to roll survival or anything, you can just find some.

Maybe you'd like to scrounge for ingredients

This is closer to your question. Maybe you'd like to find tea ingredients on the ship you're currently on.

At issue is if there is anything on the ship that could make a tea specifically for seasickness.

Player: I'd like to find some ingredients for a tea. Can I find anything like that here on the ship?

DM: Hmmm. You can scrounge in the galley. In the back of a cupboard you find a packet that has some old black tea and some mint. That's all you find.

  • or -

DM: Hmmm. You talk to the ship's cook. They give you some black tea and some lavender. That's all they have.

  • or -

DM: Hmmm. You talk to the ship's doctor. They have a fairly well-stocked pharmacopeia. I see you're proficient in medicine. Give me a medicine check to see if you can identify ingredients appropriate for a soothing tea in the doctor's supplies.

The DM might determine that other checks might be appropriate. Investigation to scrounge in the galley. Persuasion to get the doctor to part with any herbals.

Maybe what you're making is a little more complicated than just "tea"

As I alluded to above, in the conversation about the ship's doctor, identifying ingredients specifically for seasickness might be a little complicated.

This is going to vary from DM to DM. One DM may just let you identify ingredients among whatever material is available. Another might want a Medicine check, or even a Nature check.

The description of the Medicine check says:

A Wisdom (Medicine) check lets you try to stabilize a dying companion or diagnose an illness.

Up to the DM how to apply that. If I'm the DM, I think Medicine is a pretty likely skill check to ask for, to identify ingredients for a tea for seasickness.

The Herbalism kit also factors into this discussion. It says (in part):

Proficiency with this kit lets you add your proficiency bonus to any ability checks you make to identify or apply herbs.

Anyone can attempt to identify herbs, but proficiency with the Herbalism kit allows you to add your proficiency bonus to checks.

The DM has a great deal of descretion here, to decide what checks are necessary, or even what checks are possible.

Putting it all together

Fortunately, it's very easy to put all of this together.

Just tell the DM you want to make a tea to help the party member with seasickness. The rest of it is up to the DM.

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