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5E Are components (V,S,M) and schools in spell writeups really necessary for spells anymore?

Kobold Avenger

Adventurer
Thinking on the design of spells and their writeup entries and the latest complaints about "psionic magic", I don't think there's any relevance to components and school anymore compared to spell levels, range, casting time, duration and so on. Unless the material component is costly, most are going ignore the M. And very rarely does V or S come up such as in the case of Silence or Grappling. Schools are often arbitrary as it could be argued whether one spell belongs to a school or not.

I know those exist for legacy reasons and for the Wizard subclasses mainly. Removing schools from arcane spells left a lot of uninspired powers in their place during 4e because of the strict adherence to AEDU, the utility / attack divide and level filling for powers. It left no room for creative choices or spells that rely on player creativity like a lot of the illusion school spells. But going back to the 9 levels plus cantrips model, I feel in some cases the school could really just be keywords like: Evocation, Fire for fireball, or Psychic for something like Mind Blast. But design based on keywords though easy for those with system mastery to read, but it seems like it might go against the tendency to use natural language in 5e. Also I'm guessing that keyword soup could potentially be a problem if certain spells have too many keywords (maybe limit them to 3 or 5).

As for components themselves, I feel it should be which components used should be primarily a function of the class or subclass. Wizards and Druids must use V,S and M or focus for all spells, and that Bards must use V, and Artificers must use M, and Psions don't use those 3 at least but might use something else.
 

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CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I guess I'm in the "Not Broken/Don't Fix" camp. I don't have a problem with components and schools.

They are as "relevant" and "necessary" as your DM wants them to be, I guess. Folks that don't want them can ignore them easily enough...a lot easier than it would be for folks who do want them to add them back in, anyway.
 
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MarkB

Legend
The non-valuable material components are pretty irrelevant, but I find the verbal and somatic components useful in indicating what it takes to cast a particular spell, and what it's going to look like in the fiction.

For instance, if a spell has a verbal component, you need to be speaking it in a clear voice - so if you're casting guidance to help someone's stealth check it's probably counterproductive, and if you're doing so to enhance an ally's deception check it's going to be pretty obvious to the person they're speaking to that you just cast a spell.

And if it has a somatic component, that means you need to be keeping a hand free in order to cast it, so consider carefully what you're carrying, and if you're trying to do it while climbing a rope or a steep cliff you'd better be keeping a very good grip with your other hand.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
I enjoy the specificity of material components for flavor.

Whether or not a spell has verbal or somatic components doesn’t come up a lot, but in every campaign I’ve played that was a reasonably lengthy one, it absolutely mattered a handful of times.
 

Kobold Avenger

Adventurer
For instance, if a spell has a verbal component, you need to be speaking it in a clear voice - so if you're casting guidance to help someone's stealth check it's probably counterproductive, and if you're doing so to enhance an ally's deception check it's going to be pretty obvious to the person they're speaking to that you just cast a spell.
A player is going to argue they're casting the spell by whispering the verbal component.

But it does go back to my idea that those components shouldn't be in the spell themselves, but rather the classes themselves.
 

Saelorn

Hero
The non-valuable material components are pretty irrelevant, but I find the verbal and somatic components useful in indicating what it takes to cast a particular spell, and what it's going to look like in the fiction.
Sure, but what's the benefit to having that vary between individual spells? If all spells require you to speak clearly and gesture freely, it tells us just as much about what's going on in the narrative, but it saves a bunch of bookkeeping.
 


Jeff Carlsen

Adventurer
Spell components are important to me, and I would like to have material components revisited to be a more tangible resource again, but one that isn't too laborious to track.

But I'd be happy to be rid of the schools of magic as they currently exist. Instead of 8 broad and vague schools, I'd rather have numerous specific schools with fewer spells each. Fire Magic, Healing, Charm, Artifacing, Terraforming, etc. I think this would give more fodder both for world design and character design.
 


Stalker0

Legend
I don't mind the specific material components.... simply because the spell component pouch makes it super easy to handwave. (though I absolutely think sorcerors should be able to eschew components as a class feature, it silly outwise).

On V, S.... I personally would rather that all spells just said that they required these things....and then the few spells that don't should make a special note.

Power Word Kill: This spell requires no gestures at all to cast.
 

MarkB

Legend
Sure, but what's the benefit to having that vary between individual spells? If all spells require you to speak clearly and gesture freely, it tells us just as much about what's going on in the narrative, but it saves a bunch of bookkeeping.
It means that some spells can be used in a pinch when others would not work. The wizard manacled to the wall can't fireball his captors, but he can slip away with a verbal-only dimension door.
 

Saelorn

Hero
It means that some spells can be used in a pinch when others would not work. The wizard manacled to the wall can't fireball his captors, but he can slip away with a verbal-only dimension door.
Is that a good thing, though?

Part of the reason for spellcasting components is that it gives a way to shut down a spellcaster, so you can take one captive without killing them outright. Tying the wizard's hand is supposed to be like taking the fighter's sword away. If some spells don't have somatic components, though, then it means you have to gag every wizard you take captive, in addition to binding their hands and taking away their pouch. If every spell requires all three, then you can just take their pouch, and keep them in a cell with everyone else.
 

MarkB

Legend
Is that a good thing, though?

Part of the reason for spellcasting components is that it gives a way to shut down a spellcaster, so you can take one captive without killing them outright. Tying the wizard's hand is supposed to be like taking the fighter's sword away. If some spells don't have somatic components, though, then it means you have to gag every wizard you take captive, in addition to binding their hands and taking away their pouch. If every spell requires all three, then you can just take their pouch, and keep them in a cell with everyone else.
The well prepared rogue can hide a dagger or lockpick to escape. The fighter can use raw strength to fashion an improvised weapon from a bedframe. Shouldn't the well prepared wizard have the option to have the right spell in hand?

And while gagging the wizard is workable, another effective approach is to blindfold them. Most spells require a visible target, and even for something like dimension door which does not, it's a lot harder to pick a viable destination spot when you've no idea of your surroundings.
 

TaranTheWanderer

Adventurer
We snuck into a cabin that had been taken over by a bunch of hobgoblins. We did it while they were sleeping and hit the whole place with a Silence spell. The plan was to get in, get the McGuffin and get out.

STEALTH MISSIONS NEVER SUCCEED!

In any case, when combat started, half the goblins were asleep and unaware of the fighting. The down side was our wizard couldn't cast any spells. Until he realized control flames was somatic only and he was able to make the fire leap from the fireplace and start burning the place down.

It was a fun moment so I think V and S have their place. With the addition of foci, I feel that material components are just fluff. I like the expensive ones because they give your wizards reasons to adventure and things to work towards. My wizard HAS SO MANY PLANS! .... but is too poor to execute most of them. 1000gp in diamond dust can't be bought in any corner store.

Edit: I know you mentioned silence but I think it was worth posting anyways.
 

Saelorn

Hero
The well prepared rogue can hide a dagger or lockpick to escape. The fighter can use raw strength to fashion an improvised weapon from a bedframe. Shouldn't the well prepared wizard have the option to have the right spell in hand?

And while gagging the wizard is workable, another effective approach is to blindfold them. Most spells require a visible target, and even for something like dimension door which does not, it's a lot harder to pick a viable destination spot when you've no idea of your surroundings.
The greater the burden you place on the prison warden, the more likely they'll just kill the wizard instead of trying to imprison them. Gags and blindfolds require seriously heavy-duty hardware, or else solitary confinement away from anyone who might remove those things.

If every spell required a focus or pouch, though, then you could take that away and toss the wizard in with everyone else. It's much more conducive to interesting prison-break scenarios.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Spell components are such a minor part of the casting system and only take up a single line in a spellblock write-up that I don't see any particular need to remove them at this point in time. They are there for those few DMs who want them, and are easily completely ignored by the other 99% so what's the harm? Same thing with Encumbrance rules... a legacy system that barely anyone uses, but which it's nice to keep just for the few that do.
 

MarkB

Legend
The greater the burden you place on the prison warden, the more likely they'll just kill the wizard instead of trying to imprison them. Gags and blindfolds require seriously heavy-duty hardware, or else solitary confinement away from anyone who might remove those things.

If every spell required a focus or pouch, though, then you could take that away and toss the wizard in with everyone else. It's much more conducive to interesting prison-break scenarios.
Another option for shutting down most spellcasters is to strap them into armour they aren't proficient in. I actually considered that once for a mage prison. Called it Paper Plate - a suit that's strapped and padlocked onto a prisoner. Bulky in the joints to restrict movement like poorly fitted plate armour, but little more than cloth and cardboard everywhere else.

Ultimately, though, any scenario which completely shuts down a character's class features for an extended period is going to get old fast.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I actually considered that once for a mage prison. Called it Paper Plate - a suit that's strapped and padlocked onto a prisoner. Bulky in the joints to restrict movement like poorly fitted plate armour, but little more than cloth and cardboard everywhere else.

Ultimately, though, any scenario which completely shuts down a character's class features for an extended period is going to get old fast.
Bestow Curse is a great way to do this, also. "For the duration of the curse, the target creature has no spell slots and cannot cast spells."

But like you said, this will get old fast.
 

Saelorn

Hero
Ultimately, though, any scenario which completely shuts down a character's class features for an extended period is going to get old fast.
Prison-break scenarios aren't intended to last very long. That's another reason why it's better to have a simple goal (find spell pouch) than a complex one (break the wizard out of their full-body harness).
 

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