Appendix K: Describing Magical Substances
Gary Gygax left us many utilities for dungeon dressing. I’m not ashamed to admit that when it comes to the contents of potion bottles, magical elixirs, and like substances, I struggle at the table to describe the appearances, tastes, and smells.
Here are Mr. Gygax’s tables to assist Dungeon Masters when “winging it.” I can’t wait to put some of these to work immediately. The amount of imagination on display is amazing.
Flecked (transparent and other)
Layered (color or transparency)
Luminous (determine transparency)
Phosphorescent (determine transparency)
Ribboned (determine transparency)
Variegated (determine colors)
Taste and/or Odor (1d20+1d10-1)
Colors - Type (2d6-1)
Gary further broke down the individual colors on pg. 222 of the 1st edition AD&D DMG. There are 74 such individual colors which, to many poor eyes, are likely indistinguishable from the color headings under which they are subsumed. Personally, I like the detail and look forward to telling a PC they have discovered a “saffron” colored potion. I will not reproduce this table, but you are encouraged to go to your local paint store and get some swatches for inspiration.