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

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Spell foci and component pouches ruined material components. Like others have mentioned, unless there is a cost, they are pointless now because they are unnecessary (again, due to spell foci and component pouches). If you play with the bookkeeeping of actual components, it makes sense to keep them--otherwise just get rid of them and say "spell foci or component pouch" because that is what 90% of the components have become. :(
 

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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Components: absolutely keep the VSM designators - it's three letters in a spell write-up so hardly space-consuming, and they very clearly tell you what's required for that spell. As for the actual material components, anything with a cost needs to be noted in the write-up; other than that the presence of a components pouch (or holy symbol for Clerics) will do.

Schools: if a school of magic is that distinctive then give it its own full class e.g. Illusionist, Necromancer, etc. Otherwise, I've never - ever - seen the point of schools of magic, and have happily ignored them for my entire DMing career. :)
 


ccs

40th lv DM
Components: absolutely keep the VSM designators - it's three letters in a spell write-up so hardly space-consuming, and they very clearly tell you what's required for that spell. As for the actual material components, anything with a cost needs to be noted in the write-up; other than that the presence of a components pouch (or holy symbol for Clerics) will do.

Schools: if a school of magic is that distinctive then give it its own full class e.g. Illusionist, Necromancer, etc. Otherwise, I've never - ever - seen the point of schools of magic, and have happily ignored them for my entire DMing career. :)

So you've never had mentors, guilds, etc that specialized in certain types of magic? Or refused to teach certain "schools"? Characters who wouldn't/couldn't cast certain types of spells? What about things resistant/vulnerable to various schools?
 

Yeah, I tend to find that "You need to have your arcane focus in your hand" is equally restrictive and removes some legacy text that otherwise we completely ignore. It doesn't hurt to have, but I won't weep if it vanishes either, because I prefer making up my own types of things.

Schools of magic though... I would want to keep them if they were more comprehensive. The only time they matter outside of the wizard is when using detect magic... and the issue is that few magic items have a clear school of magic, same with a lot of magical traps. So, the DM has to suddenly start making things up, and then for a lot of players hearing "You detect Abjuration magic" is about as helpful as hearing "The monster is a giant Crocuta."

So, I think we either need to lean more heavily into defining magic, or back out, but we are in a weird middle place which is putting an unnecessary pressure on the DM.
 

Iry

Hero
Most of the time it's irrelevant, but sometimes it can create a great cinematic moment. I don't see the harm in keeping it for those potential moments of Awesome, except maybe saving on word count.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
So you've never had mentors, guilds, etc that specialized in certain types of magic? Or refused to teach certain "schools"? Characters who wouldn't/couldn't cast certain types of spells? What about things resistant/vulnerable to various schools?
In general, not really. Resistances and vulnerabilities are more element-based or damage-type based; and while casters are free to focus on a particular type of magic e.g. summonings or blast-castings or divinations it's by their own (player's) choice for flavour or characterization and doesn't have much if any mechanical impact.

The only exception sometimes is illusions, but there's a whole class for those. :)

Never mind that some of the school designations don't mesh with how I view the fiction. Cure spells, for example, have always been part of the necromantic school; and though this is technically within the definition of necromancy, to me necromancy has always carried an evil side to it - which is the exact opposite of curing, I'd think. :)
 

Monayuris

Adventurer
I like the designation of V,S,M in spells. But I think sometimes it becomes glossed over or ignored except for corner cases. They are good to have in the game to help guide ruling when those corner cases do occur. But they are relatively ignored many other times.

But I come from B/X as my favorite edition. It has neither components nor spell schools, and it works just fine, so their exclustion wouldn't really cause me to shed any tears.

I think V,S,M really matters more when you are dealing with a more permissive rule-set. B/X, for example, is really, really, really hard on magic-users. 5E on the other hand is really, really, really easy on magic-users. Maybe it more needs the context of V,S,M components to ground magic use.
 


pming

Adventurer
Hiya!

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.

First, Schools: I use them as "magical descriptions of a general nature" for those able to Detect Magic in some way. I also use the school in regards to those using various Skills (Arcana, Religion and various others, if appropriate). For example, a chest may have "ancient runes carved around the lock". Now the player makes an Arcana (lets say) check and succeeds: "The runes are a warning involving concepts of Evocation". So, now the PC might decide to actually cast a Detect Magic on it to see if they can get more specific info...or leave it alone...or cast Dispel Magic just to be sure, etc. Another example, I might describe an area, but then give more info to the elven druid after a Nature Skill roll: "You, however, distinctly get a feeling of unease. The place has little patches of Moonlight Moss, and you can see a few Glow-Bugs flitting about...the area has a focus of Enchantment about it, but you can't make out anything specific".

In a nutshell...I use it every now and then to reward and encourage Players/PC's to utilize things other than Flame Bolt and Sneak Attack. ;)

Second, Material Components: YES! Definitely use them! :) One of the first things I adjusted was to encourage Players to try and keep track of and pick up the specific Material Components. I did this by simply adding a 'carrot': If the PC actually has the appropriate Material Components that DO NOT have a "specific mention and price" (re: "A diamond worth at least 50gp's")...then they can get a 'bonus' to the spell. They can choose this bonus, and it is basically a +1 to the DC save, or +10% to the spells Range or Area of Affect, or maybe +1 extra person if it normally affects several people, etc), or maybe some other minor effect that they think would be cool or "character thematic". It may not be as cool as "You don't have it, you can't cast it...or you have to use a substitute and hope for the best"...but it's better than just "Oh, I have Spell Component Pouch". Bleeaachh! 🤢

IMNSHO, irrelevant stuff I’ve said many times before and is virtually assured to start arguments.

Please don’t keep doing this. You’re approaching a literal point of no return.


^_^

Paul L. Ming
 
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Aldarc

Legend
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.
Shadow of the Demon Lord does something similar, though it also breaks traditions up by the casting attribute the tradition uses.



Spell traditions are more like thematic cleric domains. Much as you say "this would give more fodder both for world design and character design." I like systems that do this (e.g., Fantasy AGE, True 20, etc.) because it gives you more distinct building blocks that allow you to homebrew in various ways. For example, you can say that the War Academy of Magic teaches Arcana, Battle, Fire, and Protection traditions.
 


Azzy

Newtype
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.
Spell components have NEVER been necessary. Take the "basic" D&D line of B/X, BECMI, RC, etc. It didn't have spell components, schools, damage types, etc. D&D doesn't need those things (though I like the spell schools), and they could easily be removed without affecting the game. Heck, spell components have been one of the most ignored things from AD&D onwards (along with armor modifiers for weapons, weapon speeds, moral, racial level limits, etc.).
 

I've been considering implementing components by class:

Artificer = M + S
Wizards = M + V + S
Cleric = V + F (holy symbol [god radio])
Druid = V, S, + F (mistletoe or similar)
Sorcerer = V, S
Bard = V + F (instrument + music)
Warlock = S + V ( + F [pact boon])
Paladin = V + S
Ranger = M + S
 

clearstream

Be just and fear not...
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.
Wizards quite often don't have sleight of hand, in my experience :)
 

I like components. It actually helps to visualise what's happening in the fiction. And yes, in practice they don't often matter, but then there are certain situations in which they very much do. I don't like the focis though, as they just invalidate the need to use material components. I don't allow focis in my game.

Spell schools I really don't care about. I like the idea of spells being divided in some sort of thematic groups, as then you can link mechanics to that and assign them to classes for which they fit to, but I just feel that the normal D&D spell schools are not particularly thematically strong or interesting.
 

FrozenNorth

Adventurer
I've been considering implementing components by class:

Artificer = M + S
Wizards = M + V + S
Cleric = V + F (holy symbol [god radio])
Druid = V, S, + F (mistletoe or similar)
Sorcerer = V, S
Bard = V + F (instrument + music)
Warlock = S + V ( + F [pact boon])
Paladin = V + S
Ranger = M + S
Does the mean that the paladin needs to keep a hand free to cast spells? I could see this as being very limiting.
 



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