Regarding a build mentioned in KRyan's answer to a question:

Does a Master Alchemist's...

Brew Potion (9th): As Brew Potion (4th), except that the master alchemist can brew potions of 9th-level spells.

...combined with Alchemist Savant's...

Brew Universal Potion (Su): At 5th level, you gain the ability to create a universal potion—a potion that you can "flavor" with a particular spell or infusion at a later date. To create a universal potion, you choose the maximum spell or infusion level it can hold (1st, 2nd, or 3rd). You then brew the universal potion, consulting the table below for the cost to create it. (Universal potions have no market price, since only the creator can take advantage of their utility.) An uncharged universal potion radiates faint magic of no school.

...mean that I can Brew a Universal Potion of 9th level spells? Are Universal Potions only limited to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd levels spells as mentioned in the its text?


3 Answers 3



The way the rules interact is ambiguous, and depends on how one looks at the rules for potionmaking and universal potions.

"Yes" Interpretation: "Universal potions are potions"

Universal potions are, in their class feature, defined as "a potion." Brew Potion can be used to make all items in the subset of "potions," so it would work fine with universal potions. Thus, you can brew them of higher-level spells, although as noted in KRyan's answer, this creates a rules hole about their cost to create.

This interpretation is consistent with how the rules work in some other places, such as a "+1 flaming longsword" still being a "longsword," an "arcane spell" still being a "spell," and any other numerous pairings of adjective and noun not invalidating that noun's nouniness.

I personally lean towards this interpretation. It creates an unfortunate problem where you need to extrapolate the costs (thanks to the classes being from completely different books and settings), but it's the answer that fits best within the existing framework of 3.5 and the precedence of other abilities.

However, there are a couple ones on the opposite side of the spectrum that I think might be other likely conclusions:

"No" Interpretation: "Universal potions are potions, but..."

This interpretation hinges on the idea that universal potions, while they are potions (they're called out as such explicitly, after all), have their own special rules that override the normal rules for potions. Similar to rectangles and squares, all universal potions are potions, but not all potions are universal potions.

The question addressed by this interpretation is whether or not this exception to the normal potion rules:

To create a universal potion, you choose the maximum spell or infusion level it can hold (1st, 2nd, or 3rd). You then brew the universal potion, consulting the table below for the cost to create it.

Takes precedence over this one:

As Brew Potion (4th), except that the master alchemist can brew potions of 9th-level spells.

And it's a valid reading to say that it does override any and all other exceptions. D&D 3.5 is an exception-based ruleset, and juggling multiple rules that say opposite things is always an awkward scenario.

"No" Interpretation: "Universal potions are not actually potions"

This interpretation is similar to the above, but a bit more extreme. The idea behind it is that, regardless of the text describing it, a universal potion is as different from potion as an eternal wand is from a wand, or a runestaff is from a staff. Universal potions have their own special rules for creation listed in the ability, and they do not interact at all with normal potion rules. This interpretation would also lead to them not being able to be used with things like potion bracers, infusions that target potions, and the like. Of these three interpretations, this one causes the most rules breaks and has the least support, but it is still a possible answer here, because of the precedent set by the above three listed items. Personally, I do not think this is a very valid answer. It is a possible reading, but not a good one. Unlike with eternal wands, universal potions are explicitly called out as potions in their description.

So really, check with your DM

Most online D&D 3.5 optimization and builds assumes a permissive DM, because the game is broken in enough places that the DM's hand is needed for it to function. This is one of those cases, in my opinion. The rules interaction could be read in one of several ways, and a couple of those ways are fairly unfun. The most stringently-read way ("universal potions are potions; it says it right there in the ability") has a rules hole that results from it (like many combinations in 3.5), and is a bit stronger than the other ones.

I don't think that there's a true RAW answer either way here, however, so the best way to solve this is to build assuming the answer that enables the build, then to discuss the question with your group before using it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is superior to my answer in every way. So, should I delete my answer? I'm not sure what the recommended course of action is, here. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Jan 29, 2016 at 4:25

Yes, you can.

In the alchemist savant’s Universal Potion class feature, universal potions are defined as “a potion.” In the master alchemist’s Brew Potion (4th) feature, the limitation on “potions” to 3rd-or-lower level spells is lifted to 4th level. Subsequent class features successively raise this, up to 9th by the end of the master alchemist class. Since universal potions are potions, they are improved by this class feature.

However, an obvious problem emerges: Magic of Eberron does not define the costs for brewing universal potions of a level higher than 3rd, no doubt because the authors did not consider (or did not want to cause confusion and waste space addressing) the Magic of Faerûn master alchemist prestige class. That said, the table is following a fairly obvious scheme that can easily be extended:

$$ \left(SL \times CL\right) \times 100 \text{ gp, }\left(SL \times CL\right) \times 8 \text{ XP} $$

where \$CL\$ is the minimum wizard (for example) caster level necessary to cast spells of \$SL\$ level. So the rest of the table would be

Maximum Spell Level Cost (gp) Cost (XP)
4th 2800 gp 224 XP
5th 4,500 gp 360 XP
6th 6,600 gp 528 XP
7th 9,100 gp 728 XP
8th 12,100 gp 960 XP
9th 15,300 gp 1,224 XP

No, that build can't make 9th-level universal potions. The text of Brew Universal Potion that you quoted is quite clear: The the character must select 1st, 2nd or 3rd as the maximum spell or infusion level of the universal potion. No other levels are listed, and there no text to the effect of "or other levels, if you can create potions with other levels than that." I can imagine someone house-ruling to the contrary, though.

Incidentally, this wording means that you can't make 0-level universal potions either.


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