Dungeon and Dragon props – Potions of Healing

A few months ago, one of my brothers-in-law asked me if I wanted to join his first ever Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Of course I said yes! We played our few sessions now, and I have been making props to enhance game play or make things easier. In a series of a few blog posts I will outline the things I made, and provide considerations and details if you want to make them yourself. In this installment: Potions of Healing.

In Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), players often get involved in various sorts of fights and take damage. To prevent them from being incapacitated the rest of the game, go unconscious or right out die in game healing spells or potions of healing are used. Potions of Healing are governed by a couple of foursided dice (d4) and a modifier.

The four types of Potions of Healing that appear in the Dungeons Master Guide are listed in Table 1.

Potion ofHit points regained
Healing2d4 + 2
Greater Healing4d4 + 4
Superior Healing8d4 + 8
Supreme Healing10d4 + 20
Table 1: Types of Potions of Healing and the number of hit points the recipient regains.

While Potions of Healing and Greater Healing are (fairly) common in game and can typically be purchased by the players, the other two are fairly rare and more often found than purchased.

To make taking or administering a Potion of Healing more fun and a bit quicker, people use prepared sets of dice that they have ready during play. They tend to come in two flavours, which I dubbed 1. the shaker type and 2. the spill-out type. In the first one, the dice are contained in a transparent container that is shaken to (re)roll the dice inside. The dice never leave the container. In the second type, you pull off the cap of the container and empty it in a dice tray. In my opinion, the latter adds the element of actually taking/administering a potion to the dice roll, while the former has the advantage of not having to pick up those bloody d4s afterwards.

The spill-out type

I made both versions and started with the spill-out type. For this, I used green, transparent 16 mm d4s (actual sides are 20 mm long) that I put in tall glass tubes that are sealed with a cork cap. Pro tip: add a blank die with the modifier written on it. The player only has to dump out all dice into the tray to get the total number of hit points, without having to look up the modifier. This speeds up gameplay.

Figure 1: From left to right Potions of Healing, Greater Healing, Superior Healing and Supreme Healing.

In game, just pull of the cap, and dump them in your dice tray (or onto the table if you need to).

Figure 2: Dump the dice into your dice tray!

We have tried it out in game and it works great. Be careful though, the container may be prone to cracking. I used glass containers with a wall thickness of approximately 1 mm thick glass. This cheap container type is not strong enough, and can crack and shatter if you shake the dice in the container.

Figure 3: Cracked containe after shaking the dice.

If you want to make these yourself, make sure that the mouth of the container is large enough for the dice to comfortable fit through. For this, a bit of math will get you a long way. As shown in Figure 4, the mouth has to be able to encircle the entire die of width w. The diameter of the circle D is equal to D = 2 w / sqrt(3) ~ 1.15 w. For your standard 16 mm dice (w = 20), the minimum diameter is 23.1 mm.

Figure 4: Sketch of the top view of the mouth of the container. The mouth has to encircle the entire die with width w.

The shaker type

The second type consists of a transparent container that is shaken to roll the dice. It was easier to find stronger containers for this, that also have thicker walls that can take the impact of the dice.

Figure 5: The shaker type containers. From left to right are the Potions of Supreme Healing, of Superior Healing, of Greater Healing and of Healing. The spill-out type is on the far right for size comparison.

Because the dice have to be able to sit next to each other and may not be forced to rest on top of each other, the containers have to be significantly larger than the spill-out type, as is obvious from the size comparison in Figure 5.

The bottom of the containers is not flat, and they look rather empty with the dice all sitting on the bottom. Following the example set by many others, Gijs and I will be filling the containers with green coloured epoxy. Once the epoxy sets, the die can rest on a flat surface.

If you want to make these yourself, a bit of math will help you find the right size containers for the different potion types. The mouth diameter can be determined in the same way as described for the spill-out type. For the shaker type, however, the diameter of the container needs to be large enough for the dice to comfortably sit next to each other after shaking. If we consider that the orientation of the dice in its enclosed circle can be free, this becomes a problem of packing circles in a larger circle. The diameter of the larger circle is trivial for small number of dice, but gets complicated for larger numbers. Therefore, I will not derive the equations here and just list the results from the Wikipedia article on Circle packing in a circle. The values are listed in Table 2. For standard 16 mm dice sets (width of the d4 die is 20 mm) is listed in the last column. If you are using a different diameter, calculate the mouth width required for the dice to fit, and multiply that by the value in the third column.

Potion ofNumber of diceRelative diameter of containerDiameter of container for 16 mm dice sets
Healing2 (+1)2 (2.15)46.2 mm (49.8 mm)
Greater Healing4 (+1)2.4 (2.7)55.8 mm (62.4 mm)
Superior Healing8 (+1)3.3 (3.6)76.3 mm (83.4 mm)
Supreme Healing10 (+1)3.8 (3.9)88.1 mm (90.6 mm)
Table 2: The number of dice in the potion, the relative diameter of the container compared to the minimum mouth diameter and the minimum diameter of the container for standard 16 mm dice. Use the values between brackets when you add the blank die with the modifier.

How many do you need?

If you are making these Potions of Healing yourself, you need to determine how many to get. The Potions of Healing and of Greater Healing are common in game. If you are with a party of 4 – 6 players, I suggest getting enough dice and containers to make at least 2 Potions of Healing and 1 Potion of Greater Healing. I got enough dice and containers to make 3 Potions of Healing and 2 Potions of Greater Healing so that they can be distributed across the players in COVID times and they don’t have to share. The other two potion types are very uncommon, and one of each should be more than enough.

If you are in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, Germany or France, have a look at Dobbelstenenshop to get your dice. They sell dice per piece at a very fair price and can sell them in larger quanities too. They happen to be located in my area, and the owner is a nice guy.