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Do you need a potion?
Spend enough time as an adventurer, and you will quickly learn that the steal you carry and the strength to wield it alone are often not enough to defeat the indomitable unyielding evils that lurk in the shadows of Dungeons & Dragons' many realms. However, despite these odds, all hope is not lost. There are many ways to boost one's speed, increase an ally's strength, heal mortal wounds, or grant a player almost any of the world's extraordinary magical abilities. If an adventuring group needs such arcane enhancements, they need not look further than their local apothecary.
Fumbling among the bubbling vials and strange smells, players will undoubtedly find an ingenious alchemist, clever herbalist, or innovative spellcaster behind the counter. Their unique skill set and thirst for knowledge drive them to experiment with strange and beautiful magic, crafting unimaginably unusual yet powerful concoctions. Stepping inside, a menagerie of vials, bottles, and flasks containing magical potions, acids, oils, perfumes, and even poisons await the party's perusal.
However, depending on the skill set of the individuals on-site and the size of the city the players may find themselves in, there could be more behind the counter than mysterious liquids. Though not guaranteed, apothecaries may carry a wide variety of spell scrolls and magical items available for purchase or offer commissions as an additional service. However, such powerful items do not come cheap. Depending on the request, players should prepare to part with a hefty sack of gold and a considerable amount of time for any item that requires crafting.
What else does an apothecary sell?
Regardless of your level and experience, there is always a particular set of physical requirements to cast a spell successfully. While most adventurers can easily accommodate the verbal and somatic elements with enough practice, all the magic words in the realm cannot help replace your material components. The nearest apothecary can be a godsend when a player discovers they no longer possess such rare and unique elements. These arcane repositories can provide magic users with almost any inexpensive or common component, from ash to incense to fresh yew leaves.
Depending on the size or location of the shop, they may not carry precious gems, metals, or holy relics. Players looking for these items may find better luck with more specialized merchants. Similarly, only particular apothecary owners may have an affinity for the darker side of necromantic practices and, even then, might be shunned from polite society. Still, most simple spell components should be readily available beyond these hard-to-find pieces.
There may even be things for sorcerers, warlocks, and wizards on the shelves of an apothecary. Typically, these mages can bypass the need for rudimentary or essential components using their arcane focus. However, even careful magic users may lose, break, or tire of their current focus. When the need arises, discerning spellcasters may be glad to know that orbs, crystals, staffs, wands—and sometimes even stranger focuses—can be made available. Though, as with components, availability may vary depending on the size and location of the shop.