IFAQ: Potions of Longevity

August has been a month! After returning from GenCon I ended up being sidelined with COVID for a week. In addition, Wayfinder—a video game I’ve been writing for—has just gone into early access. AND, I’m going to be at PAX in Seattle this upcoming weekend; if you’re there, come find me at the Twogether Studios booth and say hi! Oh, and also, the seats for my table at D&D in a Castle are almost sold out, so if you want to be part of that, follow the link!

So, it’s been a crazy month and I haven’t had as much time or energy for writing as I’d hoped. However, when time allows I like to answer interesting questions posed by my Patreon supporters. Here’s one of those…

How common or uncommon are magics that extend someone’s lifespan in Eberron, like potions of longevity? There’s NPCs like Haldren ir’Brassek that are supposedly human, but still healthy enough at at least 120ish years old that there would be people willing to serve under him if he broke out of prison, which makes me wonder how much those types of potions might play into politics.

While there are always exceptions, largely the rarity categorization is a good indicator of how common a magic item is. Potions of Longevity are very rare, which means that they aren’t unheard of—they aren’t LEGENDARY—but at the same time they definitely aren’t mass produced or reliably available. At very rare, they aren’t being produced by House Jorasco. Because they exist, you can be sure that Jorasco is trying to create them—likely coordinating with Vadalis and the Twelve—but it hasn’t managed to crack the code.

With that said, very rare means that, again, they aren’t legendary. People have HEARD of them, even if they aren’t something you can just go to the store and purchase. This ties to the general point that especially with rarer items, don’t just think of it as a generic “potion”. Who made it? How will that affect its appearance? Are there any interesting side effects? Appearance, application, side effects—all of these should be largely cosmetic. If a potion is something you rub on your skin instead of drinking, you should still be able to do it in six seconds. A side effect might make you green for an hour, but it wouldn’t give you the Poisoned condition. I mean, it could, if that’s what you want, but that would be a distinctly inferior version of the item.

So with that in mind, let’s consider a few ways someone could acquire a very rare potion of longevity… and what those might look like. .

  • The Shadow or Sul Khatesh. The Shadow and Sul Khatesh can both be sources of powerful magic… but such magics often has a disturbing cost. A powerful priest of the Shadow or a favored warlock (or other devotee) of Sul Khatesh could learn a ritual allowing them to create a swirling crimson liquid that adds years to your life. The catch? The primary ingredient is the lifesblood of a humanoid creature; generally, to be effective, it must be a creature of the same species as the potential imbiber, and there could be additional restrictions (the blood of a virgin or the blood from someone who has never taken a life). Essentially, you are stealing their life—again, it must be their lifesblood, which is to say that they must die in the process of your taking it—and condensing it down to give you a few more years. There is a second form of this ritual that instead requires the recipient to bathe in the enchanted fluid as opposed to just drinking it. This doesn’t have the cumulative risk of accidental aging, but it takes longer and requires much more blood—the blood of multiple humanoids for one effective dose. There have been a few tyrants throughout history who have worked with a priest of the Shadow and extended their lives unnaturally in this way; while they weren’t actual vampires, they lived off the blood of their subjects.
  • The Blood of Vol. One of the basic devotions of the Seekers of the Divinity Within is the communal donation of blood. This blood is typically used to support vampires and other undead champions of the faith. However, a few Seeker priests have found a way to create a potion similar to the Shadow brew described above—a potion that can sustain a living creature through the donated lifeforce of the faithful. However, this is a divine ritual that is difficult to master and there may not be any living priests capable of performing it. Further, while it’s superior to the Shadow technique in that it doesn’t require the death of the donors, it can only draw on the blood of the faithful and it uses a significant amount of that blood (it is concentrated down into the final potion); it’s not an efficient use of the donations.
  • The Prince of Slime. The daelkyr Kyrzin creates a symbiotic ooze that can be consumed as if it was a potion, which has the same effects as a potion of longevity. The ooze spreads throughout the donor’s body, rejuvenating their flesh. However, it remains within their system forever. Should the user consume multiple potions, there is no risk of accidental aging. However, with each potion consumed, there is a 10% cumulative chance that the user’s personality and memories will be eradicated and replaced by the alien consciousness of the slime.
  • Archfey. A number of Archfey create potions of longevity. The elixir brewed by the Lady in Shadow ages someone close to the imbiber a number of years equal to the benefit the user receives; they get more life, but someone they know pays the price. The Harvest Monarch produces a potion that reduces the imbiber’s effective age… but the years come back during the winter months, only to fade again in the spring. The Mother of Invention might produce a potion that works in a manner similar to Kyrzin’s slime; it effectively reduces the age of the user, but it does so by replacing some of their internal organs with clockwork or silver thread, and there’s a cumulative 10% chance that the imbiber will become a mindless construct. The Merchant of Misthaven sells a standard potion of longevity with no unpleasant side effects; the question is what she will seek in exchange for that potion.
  • Mordain the Fleshweaver. Mordain has created a number of different forms of potions of longevity... a salve that’s rubbed into the skin, a silvery fluid similar to mercury, a glittering powder that’s inhaled. It’s unclear why he keeps making new versions; presumably, he’s trying to find the perfect form and these are all unsatisfactory. Which could again mean that there’s some long-term side effects waiting to be discovered…

With it being very rare, I wouldn’t have Jorasco producing potions of longevity. However, if they did, I’d definitely give it a catchy name and appealing flavoring. Try the new SpringStep, available in Zilberry or new Vazilla!

With all that in mind, let’s consider the second question: what’s the political impact of such things? After all, the Code of Galifar has a clause that addresses the undead, so that a vampire can’t (openly) rule forever. Would there be a similar clause dealing with potions of longevity? As written, I’m inclined to say not, for two reasons. The short form is that they aren’t that impressive. A potion of longevity extends someone’s life for up to 13 years, with a 10% cumulative chance of backfiring. So at best that’s adding 130 years of life. Which SEEMS pretty good to us, but when we’re living in a world of elves and dwarves, Haldren’s 120 years really isn’t that impressive; let’s face it, that’s the default starting age for an Aereni PC. Beyond that, there’s a lot of different things that could extend life a little. Haldren ir’Brassek is called out as having ties to the worship of the Dark Six, so I expect he’s increasing his life using techniques of the Shadow. BUT… he’s also a powerful sorcerer, which means that he’s innately magical. While I don’t think it’s suggested in the class features, I see nothing strange about the idea that a powerful Draconic Sorcerer might live an unnaturally long life. The same logic could follow for any sorcerer. Perhaps a Clockwork Soul Sorcerer has an innate form of the Mother of Invention’s potion, slowly becoming more construct over time. A Divine Soul Sorcerer could easily be sustained by celestial energy. Beyond that, you have affects of manifest zones, subtle aasimar, fey bargains… In short, if a seemingly normal human lives for centuries, people may start to wonder. But if someone who is known to be a powerful sorcerer makes it to 120 and still seems healthy? He’s clearly a remarkable person infused with supernatural energy; I don’t think people will be too surprised. Some might even say “Age isn’t what’s gonna kill Haldren.” At the same time, murdering people to extend your life is definitely against the Code of Galifar. If he’s just a (super)naturally long lived sorcerer that’s fine. If it can be proven that he ritually sacrificed people to extend his life, well, back to Dreadhold we go…

That’s all for now! If you’re at PAX this weekend make sure to drop by the Twogether booth and say hello. Thanks again to my Patrons who make these articles possible—I’ve got a number of things planned for Patreon in September.

11 thoughts on “IFAQ: Potions of Longevity

  1. Thanks, Keith! I know you mentioned once that Thorntuft of Wolf’s Paw has a longer lifespan due to his lycanthropy. I could see agents of the Wild Heart using that angle.

  2. Would the Thieves of Life sect of blood of vol be the primary brewers of longevity potions? Seems to fit their MO to a T.

    • It’s not actually the direction I’d go with what I’ve described here. I could certainly see Thieves of Life creating longevity potions, but I’d see them following the model of the Shadow; they are after all about THEFT of life. What I’m describing here is based on the idea of harnessing the faith of a COMMUNITY—I would see it as being more tied to the traditional path of the Seekers, a priest devoted to their community who is capable of sensing and harnessing the devotion of their flock through the medium of their shared blood. This ties to the point that I wouldn’t see this being mass produced or a process that could be taught; it’s something created by a truly devout priest and community, and relies on the relationship between them.

  3. I had a question about a similar but kinda opposite situation. Where do you see the Helm of Teleportation in Khorvaire, a Rare magic item that can cast teleport up to 3 times per day? You’ve stated in the past that the most reliable teleportation in Khorvaire (in 5e) came from roaming Orien Heirs who use their once per day Teleportation Circle. I imagine Orien would want to use these helms for their reliability, but what are your thoughts?

    • This is an interesting question, but it’s a different topic and requires a broader look at the role of teleportation in the Five Nations. If you want to ask it on Patreon I could address it there.

  4. I don’t see why an hour of the poisoned condition or any temporary side effect would matter for a potion that reduces your age by years… this is not a potion someone would typically drink in the middle of combat or in any hostile environment…

    • That’s correct. In saying that I wouldn’t add the poisoned condition I was speaking more generally to adding cosmetic details to ANY potion. An hour of Poisoned isn’t bad fro a potion of longevity, but it would be a pretty major side effect to drop on a potion of healing… whereas saying that a potion of healing causes your body hair to grow slightly or turns your eyes pink for an hour isn’t a problem.

  5. I suppose wealth is a good prevention from dying too. With *lesser restoration* being a level 2 spell, it’s a trivial matter for the Healer’s Guild to cure diseases for those who have the coin. That removes many limiters which prevents you from living to your highest potential age – even many age related diseases like cancer and heart disease. Wounds not healing properly due to age should also be easily remedied with authorised healers.

    It’s likely a completely different matter for your average farmer or laborer, so while the wealthy can enjoy long lifespans I imagine the mean life expectancy is probably still very low by our modern standards.

  6. ” The catch? The primary ingredient is the lifesblood of a humanoid creature; generally, to be effective, it must be a creature of the same species as the potential imbiber.”

    To be honest, I’m not sure how much of a flaw that is in a world where tracking down and killing bandits is perfectly acceptable.

    • To be honest, I’m not sure how much of a flaw that is in a world where tracking down and killing bandits is perfectly acceptable.

      That’s exactly the argument a follower of the Cazhaak Creed or a Knight of the Court of Shadows would make. A Vassal would argue that the consuming the life of another intelligent creature is a vile act condemned by Aureon and Dol Arrah; that justice is only served by giving that bandit a clean death. With that said, a secondary point is that it’s not EASY to make such a potion even if you have a victim to kill. It’s something that would require a powerful and devout priest, a favored warlock, or a brilliant mage. And it’s likewise possible that the particular circumstance could dictate further specifications to the “ingredients” — that beyond being the blood of a human, it must be the blood of a virgin, a child, an innocent, etc. Part of the point is that the magics of the Shadow and Sul Khatesh are SUPPOSED to be disturbing; if you have no qualms about performing the spell, you may be doing it wrong.

    • Well, if you are going to bleed them dry effectively, you kind of need to capture them before you kill them. And once you have captured them, you have to justify killing them instead of turning them over to the authorities for trial. It’s a bit different from killing them in self-defense, or because you are unable to capture them and they pose a risk to the public.

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