Some parallel worlds have different time-flows, like the fabled dwelling-places of the elves: those who visit them under the hill for a night return to find that years have passed in this world. Perhaps it is the gate leading between the worlds which causes the alteration. If a gate were 'misaligned', the shift from '| |' to '| \' or '| /' as it were would lead to that difference, much as a light-beam split and bent by a prism ends up taking a longer path. There might even be a mathematical function linking degree of misalignment to alteration of time-rate.
What if potions and tonics had negative side effects? Potions of increased strength cause violent tempers, or damage joints. What if potions of dexterity caused tremors, or palsy?
What if they were addictive, and had withdrawal symptoms?
Could someone make a bad batch? No one use the brown strength potion!