D&D 5E How do you deal with expensive material components in your campaigns?

delericho

Legend
I use expensive components per RAW - you need to have them on-hand before you can cast the spell.

When a PC has access to a suitably large settlement they can convert gold to components freely.

There are a lot of changes I'd like to see made to the rules for spell components. But this probably isn't the thread for them. :)
 

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Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I hate tracking components overall, but I keep an eye out for spells that require expensive components, as those are generally meant as balancing factors to limit their usage. In previous editions I would have required the players to have the specific expensive component. However, since I have found that 5E works well without having to track down to the copper, I'll generally allow substitution or ignore the component in favor of a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly/once limitation in its place.
I like this solution. "The veil between the mortal world and the afterlife is weakest during the new moon, and this is the only time resurrection spells may be cast."
 

Components and how I handle them as a DM are part of the campaign flavor. It's something I try to address at session 0, or at least as early as possible if I forget.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
If it costs money, the PCs have to buy it in town in my games. Don't got it? Can't cast the spell. If what you're casting expends the components, best stock up when in town because you might not be back for a while.
 

Shiroiken

Legend
I find it funny that so many people complain about spellcasters being powerful and there being no use for money, yet ignore component costs.

When we ran Avernus, I carefully considered what spells I expected to take as I leveled so that I could get them whenever I could. I was extremely stingy on using them, since I wouldn't know when/if I could replenish them. While this is an extreme example (Hell having less points of civilization), the same would be true for most wilderness campaigns, since you have to ration what you have. As an example, I tend to buy small diamonds whenever I can for use with Revivify/Raise Dead, because some places may not have them available.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
"It turns out that what you thought was 2000gp in your pack was actually value in the form of diamonds because I don't actually care for logistics..."

"...unless that's part of the quest."
 

I'm playing a cleric in Descent into Avernus and we are, currently, 12th level. There are a plethora of useful spells on the cleric list but many of them require materials like, "diamonds worth 1000gp", "rare incense worth 400gp" etc...

I'm not sure if other people have played this campaign, but we haven't had the time or resources to acquire thousands of gp worth of diamonds.

Meanwhile, in another homebrew game, my wizard needed to buy a 5kgp chest for Leomand's Secret Chest and the GM just hand-waived it. "Oh yeah, there's a guy in town who makes those o_O

The frustrating part is, many spells are gated behind seemingly arbitrary component costs that require the GM's benevolence/judgement to grant access to a big part of your class powers.

In one campaign, I feel frustrated and my choices are limited meanwhile, the party monk has access to all his abilities all the time. I see it makes sense in the context of the campaign, though. What use do devils have for piles of diamond dust?

On the other hand, the game where my Wizard had free access to unlimited resource (provided I had the cash, obviously), my character felt much more powerful. Sometimes, too powerful. Wizards are probably more dependent on GM grace given their need/ability to copy spells.

I can really see a DM saying, "I'm happy to give them access to one use of Greater Restoration per level" or "1 raise dead per campaign".

In the occasional game I run, I like to drop it as part of treasure but I don't try to be specific: "In this lab, you can scrounge 500gp worth of material components." then I let the player decide what they find.

As a GM, how do you dole out components and resources to your spellcasters? Do they have to quest for them? Are they readily available? Do you even think about that?
This is pretty eerie to read, because I'm currently playing Descent Into Avernus and our cleric/druid just had this exact issue pop up last week during our session which prompted more of a conversation about how we'll handle it. We're also level 12.. :cautious:

In our case, the DM just hand waived the rule and had the player deduct the money saying it was a retcon of the last time we were at a market since the player had the spell then and would have likely bought the component if they hadn't overlooked the component but future castings would require us to find the actual material. Since it feels like we're nearing the end from a plot perspective, that probably won't happen in this campaign.
 

jgsugden

Legend
It is part of the setting and part of the story. We let it unfold as the story dictates and I look for ways to make the acquisiton fun and meaningful.

One caveat to that - diamonds in my setting were created from the blood of the oldest of Gods (Tiamat and Bahamut) when they fought each other for ~80% of the known timeline. They can be found almost everywhere but in small amounts - so finding diamonds is only really hard in places where they've been mined already. That means it is easier to locate them in the fringes of my world than it is in the main settlements of my world, generally speaking.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
I generally make the components readily buyable in most decent sized cities, particularly if they have mage guilds in them. Not necessarily unlimited amounts at any one time, but generally able to be commissioned. But I do expect the PCs to have bought them ahead of when they'll need them. Gotta keep that OP heroes' feast under control somehow...
 

I use an alternate starting gold and equipment. As part of if, each character gets "one of each material component with a listed cost for any spell is he capable of casting." And allow the purchase of more with starting gold.

When it's time to buy components, just a shopping trip during downtime and mark off the cost. if they're in a decent sized town or city. Or they're screwed if they're in a dungeon.

I've never really analyzed the components themselves, never really considered the why of it. But I do insist on them.

I use expensive components per RAW - you need to have them on-hand before you can cast the spell.

When a PC has access to a suitably large settlement they can convert gold to components freely.

There are a lot of changes I'd like to see made to the rules for spell components. But this probably isn't the thread for them. :)

If it costs money, the PCs have to buy it in town in my games. Don't got it? Can't cast the spell. If what you're casting expends the components, best stock up when in town because you might not be back for a while.
Just commenting here on 3 similar answers.

Is there a cost that is just too much? I can't think of a specific spell example but, 'diamonds worth 10,000gp' or 'an object from the Shadowfell'(for plane shift, for example) - can these just be acquired in any large town if the players have the resources to buy it?

I ask because that was the case for my wizard. My character had the money and could just, literally, buy anything. It felt weird. It's like those items had no story 'value' in the campaign. There was no story. They were just arbitrary numbers of GPs that you needed acquire. Meanwhile, in the same campaign, I played a Druid starting at 13th and made up a back-story as to why he had the spell component for a single casting of reincarnate. It wasn't, "he bought it in town", it was, "he did a favour for the local lake deity who gave him the rare incense to cast the spell." The DM didn't really care either way.

I'm not judging one way or another. I'm just curious how you handle what can be bought in a town.
 

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