[Top 10] Pathfinder Best Potions (And How To Get Them)

Pathfinder Best Potions
Best brews and how to make them

Potions are perhaps one of the most iconic items in any fantasy RPG. In Pathfinder First Edition, potions contain a single spell which has a target of one or more creatures but only affects the drinker. Drinking a potion is a standard action which invokes attacks of opportunity.

Making potions requires the feat brew potion and costs the spell level x caster’s level x 50gp. Brewing takes two hours if the potion costs less than 250gp. If it costs 1000gp or more then it takes a day for every thousand gold. Unlike most magic items you cannot increase the DC by 5 to reduce the time. The only requirement for brew potion is to be at least a third level caster, with the exception of alchemist which gets it as a bonus feat at first level.

Any creature capable of drinking can drink potions which makes them extremely useful for martial classes without the ability to spellcast or the spare skill ranks to invest in use magic device.


10. Potions of Cure Wounds

A classic red potion

The cure wounds spells come in several varieties from cure light wounds to cure moderate, serious, and critical wounds. Potions of these spells are a necessity for any group, especially if you don’t have a cleric or bard. Potions can only store up to third level spells so the best you can get is cure serious wounds unless you take the brew greater potion feat for an extra d8 healing

The spells start with cure light wounds which heals 1d8+1 point per caster level. Each subsequent cure wounds spell heals an additional 1d8 and will have a higher bonus as by the time you get them you will be a higher caster level, making them progressively more effective as you go on.

At the beginning of your campaign even cure light wounds potions are going to be quite costly and will eat up a large amount of your budget. The healing is a massive gamble too as they come with only a +1 bonus so you may drink one only to be healed 2hp. But once you can afford to upgrade to cure moderate wounds that’s 2d8 and at least a +3, giving you a much more reliable amount of healing.

Why potions of cure wounds are useful:

  • While RAW drinking a potion is a standard action, I’ve found in personal experience DMs are willing to make it a swift action. Even if they don’t you can always make a five foot step to drink your potion out of harm’s way or make a withdraw action if things are looking particularly dire. Get out of combat and chug a few to get your health back up
  • If you have an alchemist in the party you can make cure light wounds potions from first level for 25gp a pop thanks to making potions yourself only costing half of the base price
  • CLW maxes out at a +5 so by around level 5 or 6 they can remain fairly useful while not breaking the bank
  • Cure moderate wounds is a massive upgrade once you can afford the 300gp to buy them. 2d8 alone is a huge upgrade. If you don’t recall high school statistics then it’s worth knowing that by rolling 2d8 instead of just one, you have a much better chance of rolling a middling number as the lower numbers have fewer combinations you can roll whereas 8 has a large number of combinations which add up to it. While this does mean that the higher numbers are harder to roll, having a good chance of rolling 8 healing with at least a +3 is very nice
  • They stop bleed too if you have no other way around it
  • This only gets better as you reach cure serious wounds with 3d8 which are for those really tight spots
  • While potions are expensive you need to remember that these aren’t your main source of healing. Healing potions are for when you’re in a pinch and the party’s healer can’t help you. Drink these in combat then get a wand of at least cure moderate wounds for out of combat healing

Potions of Cure wounds stats from light, moderate, to serious respectively:

  • Cost (gp): 50, 300, 750
  • Effect: 1d8+1 per caster level (max 5), 2d8+1 per caster level (max 10), 3d8+1 per caster level (max 35)

Where to get cure wounds potions:

  • CLW and CMW are usually pretty easily available in most major towns and cities in Pathfinder adventure paths, thankfully. Only big issue can be cost
  • Making potions requires brew potion, the ability to cast the respective spell, and the cost as explained above (half base cost)


9. Stat-boosting potions

A collection of old potions left on the shelf

In case you’re new to this, boosting your stat modifiers is super useful. These potions let you do it at lower levels before you can afford the respective belts and headbands, but they do not stack as by wearing, for example, a belt of giant’s strength you effectively already have bull’s strength cast on you already. Their viability is admittedly limited in the long run but can be helpful in the early game.

Bull’s strength adds a +4 to your strength score, cat’s grace +4 to your dexterity, bear’s endurance constitution, eagle’s splendour charisma, fox’s cunning intelligence, and owl’s wisdom for wisdom. They all last minutes per caster level so at their base price of 300 gold should last two minutes which will last a whole encounter. Not to be relied on too much but useful when you need it.

Why stat-boosting potions are useful:

  • Mostly useful for martial classes. I’d argue due to the limited time and the lack of extra spell slots for casters with the mental boosts but the improved DCs to spells can be useful
  • Also useful out of combat to improve relevant ability score checks. Bull’s strength for climbs and swim, cat’s grace for acrobatics, bear’s endurance for long lasting poisons, eagle’s splendour for bartering, fox’s cunning for knowledge, and owl’s wisdom for perception and sense motive
  • Anybody can drink them, so martials can benefit from them too
  • Bear’s endurance is extra useful for anybody in need of extra health. Combine it with a cleric throwing around positive energy and even the squishy casters can take a few extra hits. Even better for barbarians getting temporary hit points from their rage. Could also combine with a skald’s raging song to let all the martial classes soak even more damage
  • Bear’s endurance also gets better as you go on. As the +2 to your con modifier gives you 2 extra hit points per level, each level under your belt improves this without actually needing to spend more money
  • If you only have a belt which improves one stat you can use the potions for the other stats. Magi with only a belt of giant strength can chug fox’s cunning for higher DCs, fighters who can’t afford physical perfection can stick with strength and con and chug cat’s grace when they need extra AC from dex to fill out their armour
  • As caster level only affects the duration you can choose to brew them at a lower caster level to keep costs down without decreasing potency. Brew at a higher caster level when you need a longer duration for out of combat

Stat-boosting potions stats:

  • Cost (gp): 300 base 
  • Effect: +4 to the relevant stat’s score, increasing the modifier by +2

Where to get stat-boosting potions:

  • Grab brew potion, the relevant spells, and the gold for materials (half base cost)
  • Fairly easy to find to buy, depending on setting


8. Potion of Spider Climb

A climbing Elf who is in sore need of Spiderclimb

You know what’s better than getting a bonus to climb checks? Not having to make them at all. Spider climb gives you a 20ft climb speed and a +8 to climb checks should there be any complications.

This is especially useful when you don’t have a means to give the whole party a fly speed which is going to be a while as mass fly is a 7th level spell only found on the wizard/sorcerer spell list. It’s also quite a bit cheaper than a potion of fly. The same can’t be said of water walk as it’s also a third level spell, thus costing the same as fly. By this point you may as well make potions of fly and avoid all obstacles for a while.

Why potion of Spider Climb is useful:

  • Climb is one of those very annoying skill checks nobody invests in all that heavily. I’ve found having one rank in it is usually sufficient but you don’t really need more as there are so many better ways of getting around them, such as this
  • Cheaper than a potion of fly which costs 750gp rather than the mere 300gp this one costs
  • Saves your spellcasters who can use fly burning 3rd level spell slots on the whole party
  • At ten minutes per level it lasts more than long enough for whatever you need

Potion of spider climb stats:

  • Cost (gp): 300 base 
  • Effect: 20ft climb speed and +8 to climb checks

Where to get Potion of spider climb:

  • Grab brew potion, the relevant spells, and the gold for materials (half base cost)


7. Potion of Magic Vestment, Fang, and Weapon

A magic sword

Technically two of these are oils as they’re applied to a set of armour or a weapon but in all other aspects work the same way as potions. So I’m going to count them for the purposes of this list.

Magic vestment grants an enhancement bonus of +1 per four caster levels and lasts an hour per caster level. Weapons and armour cannot have an enhancement bonus higher than +5. Magic vestment is a third level spell and cleric gets it the earliest at 5th level, meaning you’re getting at least five hours even for just a +1 enhancement bonus.

Unfortunately this spell is only on the cleric/oracle, inquisitor, and shaman spell lists so brewing it yourself is trickier if you don’t have one of these classes to assist you in brewing it which as far as I am aware is allowed for any magic item and have not yet found anything saying whether potions are an exception to this.

The others work in pretty much the same way except they only last a minute per level if you use the normal versions of the spells but I recommend using the greater versions for the scaling enhancement and duration once you can. Fang only works on natural attacks while weapon is for manufactured weapons. Keep in mind this bonus does not bypass DR as a permanent enhancement does.

Magic weapon is much more available and is on a lot more spell lists while magic fang can only be found on druid, ranger, and summoner but is more niche anyway so not having access isn’t a dealbreaker unless you’re using natural attacks as a key part of your build.

Why potion of magic vestment, fang, and weapon is useful:

  • Hours per level means you can apply it before a fight or dungeon crawl and it should help you throughout every fight
  • Extra AC is awesome for your front liners
  • Bonus enhancement to attacks is also very helpful for your frontliners to help them hit more regularly and deal more damage
  • Very affordable. You don’t need the +5 versions which even at 3000 gold (1500 to make yourself) is a steal if you can make it but you can’t until level 20 by which point your gear is going to be enchanted to at least +3. Save yourself the money and grab a lower level one for what will be pocket change by then
  • Way cheaper than actually enchanting so get a higher enhancement bonus than you would normally be able to afford
  • Have I mentioned how cheap this thing is? A +1 version is 750gp at base and making it yourself is only 375. Make as needed for the martial characters for a nice buff
  • Even works on unarmoured builds like monks, shifters, or kensai magus as ordinary clothes count as armour granting +0 AC

Potion of magic vestment, fang, and weapon stats:

Each is listed from +1 to +5

  • Cost (gp): 750, 1200, 1800, 2400, 3000
  • Effect: 20ft climb speed and +8 to climb checks

Where to get potion of magic vestment, fang, and weapon:

  • Grab brew potion, the ability to cast magic vestment, weapon, or fang (or somebody who can), and the gold for materials (half base cost)


6. Potion of Barkskin

A druid with skin of bark

Pretty similar to magic vestment, barkskin instead grants an enhancement to your natural armour bonus. It stacks with an existing one so if you already have one this pushes it even further.

The spell description notes that creatures without natural armour have an effective bonus of +0, meaning anybody can drink this and gain its effects. It also stacks with whatever armour you’re wearing.

It lasts ten minutes per level, meaning it’s going to last a couple of encounters when you’re having a day of fighting 

Why potion of barkskin is useful:

  • Stacks with the effects of magic vestment if you can afford to do both
  • Cheaper than magic vestment but doesn’t last as long. I see this as a pretty fair tradeoff considering magic vestment starts at 700gp whereas magic vestment starts at 300 and with a +2 bonus
  • If you’re playing a monk, shifter (unlikely I know), a kensai magus or another unarmoured build then this is what you want instead of magic vestment as it is cheaper, though magic vestmant does work so long as you’re wearing clothes
  • On the alchemist spell list, making it very easy and cheap to make at only 150gp for a +2 bonus to AC
  • Useful or animal companions too if you’re a ranger, hunter, or druid
  • Works on eidolons too if yours isn’t already broken enough (been there, done that)
  • If you thought magic vestment was good value this is even better. +5 costs 1200gp at base, making it 600gp to make yourself at 12th level. Only reason to use a higher caster level is if you want it to last longer than 120 minutes/2 hours

Potion of Barkskin stats:

Each is listed from +2 to +5 (there is no +1 as the spell starts at a +2 bonus)

  • Cost (gp): 300, 600, 900, 1200
  • Effect: Bonus to AC (Minumum +2)

Where to get potion of barkskin:

  • Grab brew potion, the ability to cast barkskin (or somebody who can), and the gold for materials (half base cost)


5. Potion of Greater Invisibility

Guards walking by an empty alleyway. Definitely nobody lying in wait...

Here is where I’m going to suggest some higher level potions you can only make via the feat brew greater potion which allows you to make potions of up to fifth level. For this I’ve had to go over some spell lists so I’ve almost certainly missed something.

I’m also not going to use anything with metamagic applied as that’s a whole other can of worms but you can apply them when making potions so long as it doesn’t exceed the maximum spell level. With brew greater potion you suddenly have a bit more leeway in regards to applying metamagic so keep that in mind.

Greater invisibility is a 4th level spell which makes the target invisible for one round per caster level. Unlike its lower level counterpart the effect is not ended when they make an attack.

Assuming it was made by a wizard, the base cost for this would be 1400gp and it would last for seven rounds. Of course this number is subject to change depending on the class this was made by.

Why potion of greater invisibility is useful:

  • While invisibility lasts minutes, thus making it useful for sneaking around, greater invisibility not ending when the subject attacks makes it useful in combat
  • Keep squishy casters out of sight of anybody who might go for them
  • Defend martial characters by keeping them hidden, forcing enemies to not only guess which square they’re on, and let them attack flat footed AC
  • Especially good for rogues, slayers, ninjas, or arcane tricksters. Only lasts for one encounter but if you’re willing to spend your first turn making yourself invisible you can deal sneak attack damage for the next seven rounds while keeping out of sight

Potion of greater invisibility stats:

  • Cost (gp): 1400 (based on making it as a wizard)
  • Effect: invisibility for one round per caster level

Where to get potion of greater invisibility:

  • Grab brew potion, the ability to cast greater invisibility (or somebody who can), and the gold for materials (half base cost)


4. Potion of Polymorph

A frog/sheep losing its armour

Shape changing is awesome. It’s part of what makes druid so cool and the premise of shifter so compelling.

Polymorph is a fifth level spell which effectively grants you beast shape II, elemental body I, and alter self. That lets you pick from any tiny, small, medium, or large animal, as well as any small or medium humanoid, or even any small fire, earth, water, or air elemental. That’s a lot to choose from (pick between sessions so you’ve got the maths and abilities ready to go).

It lasts one minute per caster level, making it useful in out of combat scenarios if necessary. Pick an aquatic creature if you really need a swim speed for example.

Why potion of polymorph is useful:

  • Partly the versatility. Potentially awesome in anybody’s hands. 
  • Casters can use it defensively to decrease their size and get a bonus to AC. Pick carefully as animals that can’t speak or make the movements for somatic components you can’t cast spells requiring them. Losing access to materials is easy enough to compensate for. Pass it to a partial caster in case they need an AC bonus or a fly speed to get out of sticky situations
  • Even pure casters can become adequate in melee combat by taking the shape of a large creature
  • But the real reason you’d make a potion of polymorph is for martial characters without requiring them to run back to the caster to get the animal shape. With their already good strength they’ll be an absolute beast as a large creature with that +4 strength bonus and +4 natural armour bonus, though that is offset slightly by the -2 dexterity. 
  • Turning into something that can make free combat manoeuvres as part of their attacks, such as a tiger with a trip attempt, is awesome too. Knock them over then make attacks of opportunity when they get back up
  • Turn into a roc to get a fly speed and fight the annoying flying guy
  • Also works on high dex characters too as natural weapons like claws count as light weapons and so qualify for weapon finesse
  • Out of combat utility too. Easier ways to get fly but you may well encounter scenarios where being a specific animal for a few minutes works for your advantage

Potion of polymorph stats:

  • Cost (gp): 2250 (assuming minimum casting requirements for wizard)
  • Effect: Beast shape II, elemental shape I, or alter self for one minute per level (9 minutes minimum)

Where to get potion of polymorph:

  • Grab brew potion, the ability to cast polymorph (or somebody who can), and the gold for materials (half base cost)


3. Potion of Greater Darkvision

An elf with glowing eyes

A lot of creatures get at least low light vision which works fine for a lot of cases but sometimes low light vision just doesn’t cut it so you need to get darkvision. Greater darkvision is even better as it has a range of 120ft. 

Only a fourth level spell but if you prepare some you can give it to the few party members incapable of seeing in the dark. Lasts an hour per level too so is going to last a minimum of seven hours.

Why potion of greater darkvision is useful:

  • Gives humans the ability to see 120ft in the dark
  • Affordable and relatively quick to make at 700gp. At seven hours you can cast it at the lowest possible level, allowing you to make one a day
  • Prepare them beforehand to save your 4th level spells for combat. If you’re going into a dark cave or basement you’re going to need them for combat

Potion of greater darkvision stats:

  • Cost (gp): 1400 (based on making it as a wizard)
  • Effect: 120ft darkvision for one hour per caster level

Where to get potion of greater darkvision:

  • Grab brew potion, the ability to cast greater greater darkvision (or somebody who can), and the gold for materials (half base cost)


2. Potion of Stoneskin

An elf with skin of stone

Much more expensive than barkskin thanks to the 250gp of diamond dust but grants DR10 adamantine.

It lasts 10 minutes per caster level and absorbs up to 10 damage per caster level. Being a 4th level spell it will absorb a minimum of 70 damage.

Invest in a few all at once and drink as necessary (give to martials). Remind your GMs that adamantine weapons deal normal damage.

Why potion of stoneskin is useful:

  • DR is awesome. Especially DR adamantine which can only be bypassed by adamantine weapons or weapons with a +4 enhancement which you shouldn’t be fighting until much higher levels
  • This is for the martial characters to reduce incoming damage by 10 per hit which is very nice
  • Worth the expense to cast at higher caster levels to max out the total DR to 150
  • Don’t need to make them for the whole party. Just pick one or two martial characters. I’d suggest something with rage like barbarian, skald, or bloodrager, but it’s also useful on fighters or monks

Potion of stoneskin stats:

  • Cost (gp): 1650 (based on making it as a wizard)
  • Effect: invisibility for one round per caster level

Where to get potion of barkskin:

  • Grab brew potion, the ability to cast greater invisibility (or somebody who can), and the gold for materials (half base cost)
  • Also requires diamond dust worth 250gp


1. Potion of Displacement

Mirror Images surrounding a disarmed rogue

Now for the last entry I’m going to return to a 3rd level spell which requires only the brew potion feat. But there’s good reason for this.

Displacement is just a fantastic spell, granting you 50% concealment for one round per caster level. Brew some of these for the fighter, rogue, or whatever martial classes you have in your party and they’ll excel even if an attack targets their weaker AC.

Why potion of displacement is useful:

  • Minimum five rounds is pretty good and only gets better. Once you get seven or so rounds this lasts most if not all of some encounters
  • Harder to overcome than greater invisibility which can be ignored by see invisibility or glitterdust whereas displacement to my knowledge is only countered by dispel magic, faerie fire, or true seeing. Dispel magic requires a caster level check so isn’t a guarantee, faerie fire is a druid only spell so is unlikely to come up, and true seeing is a 7th level spell so shouldn’t be a problem for a long time. True strike can be an issue but unless you’re fighting magi or enemies with the quicken metamagic they’re going to have to wait until the next round to attack you
  • 50% concealment can really save your skin. On average every other attack is missing (not accounting for your AC vs their attack). 
  • Another affordable option, starting at 750gp base price and 375gp to make
  • Makes taking attacks of opportunity less risky if you suddenly need to be somewhere else

Potion of displacement stats:

  • Cost (gp): 750 (based on making it as a wizard)
  • Effect: 50% as per total concealment for one round per caster level

Where to get potion of greater invisibility:

  • Grab brew potion, the ability to cast displacement (or somebody who can), and the gold for materials (half base cost)

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From Twinleaf Town to Windhelm, I am a veteran explorer of worlds. My skills include monster taming/slaying, reckless driving, adept mage, and Lego builder/destroyer.
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