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

Longspeak

Adventurer
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.
My group has yet to level past the point of needing such a costly item, so I haven't had to deal with it. I am reluctant to put up too many barriers, but I might draw a line at that high of a cost being available in anything short of a major city.

The most costly component that's come up in the current series was for the Raise Dead spell, and they were in the largest city in the land, so I just said yes and the player paid the cost.
 
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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Others have mentioned straight coin conversion. I would like it if those components pulled from a standardized list of maybe 5-10 generic expensive components all spells with pricy components use. /things like N units of infused pyrocyte (1lb each) Y units of energized steel (1lb eacg) etc. That would allow me as a GM to give them as semi-fungible treasure without needing to say "by the way guys that 100gp pearl works for identify, you shouldn't sell it". As it is though the expensive components are just too varied & random for almost anything but straight gold conversion.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
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.
I don't think there's a lot of "story" to wring out of material component acquisition relative to everything else that may be going on in the campaign, so I find it's better to just let it be purchased and move on. If we need to slap a veneer of explanation as to why the wizard was able to acquire a rare thing in a village or whatever, we can just make something up.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Any spell with an expensive reusable component cost is like a magic item that requires knowing the spell and a spell slot to fuel it.

Any spell with an expensive non-reusable component is like a single-use magic item that requires knowing the spell and a spell slot to fuel it.

In some worlds, the components are easy to get. In others, harder.

The same is true of boots of flying. In some worlds, 500 gp pow winged boots bought from the Gnome Depot. In others, it is an epic quest to find the only boots in the world.

There are many Cleric spells that are really powerful fighting demons. Some of them require material components. Those are gated behind interacting with the world.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I imagine many people have done quests where the PCs are sent out to harvest/retrieve/find/recover components for a spell, but has anyone ever used the components to a spell as part of a reward?

I have, for example, seen in one game where the party was specifically paid in diamonds designed for a future use of revivify / raise dead.
 

The only low level one I can recall is the 100 sp pearl for identify. I've made that into a common trade good. If you need to move a larger amount of money, but not so much as to want a letter of credit, "trade pearls" are available at any Merchant House. After a certain point, they always have a couple once the party is flush.

For things like secret chest it takes available coin, finding an appropriately skilled crafter, and time. Any large enough town or city would have such. Something like raise dead, the cost (5000 sp) is more than just the jewel. It is also the cleric's services, the choir to create the mood which focuses the cleric and helps call back the decedent's spirit, cost of the speak with dead ("do you want to come back?"), and so forth. Once the PC cleric is of sufficient level and wants to be able to cast it in the field, there is a kit worth 2500 sp that they can purchase from their temple.

I've been moving towards 5th and 6th level spells that are a "big deal" to have some sort of additional cost, usually in a focus but sometimes in components. 7th+ levels spells are more like one-time magic items, like scrolls, than simple castable spells.

In any case, they are accessible in the city market if you have the coin, might take some time, and not always an X sp diamond.
 

I imagine many people have done quests where the PCs are sent out to harvest/retrieve/find/recover components for a spell, but has anyone ever used the components to a spell as part of a reward?

I have, for example, seen in one game where the party was specifically paid in diamonds designed for a future use of revivify / raise dead.
Yes, sometimes indirectly. There's what you mentioned, and also finding fire lily flowers for an alchemist. The part can keep a third of what they find which lets them cast fire spells at +1/die, or something like that.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I imagine many people have done quests where the PCs are sent out to harvest/retrieve/find/recover components for a spell, but has anyone ever used the components to a spell as part of a reward?

I use rituals and as such will give rewards like the components to a certain ritual, sometimes paired with the book for that ritual, or the focus for a ritual they don't have to encourage them to seek it out.

I wouldn't do that for spells primarily because I don't control what spells they know.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
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?
First of all, I think I say this every time I see you post, but you have a great handle.

Second, if the design of the campaign does not permit for the acquisition of these expensive components, the dungeon master should absolutely adapt the requirements in some way, not just make the spells unattainable. If the dungeon master is doing this as a clear design choice, that's one thing, but they should have cleared it with the players up front, as that is a substantial departure from baseline.

Third, hot take: I've been seriously considering removing spell component pouches and spell foci from the game and going back to the Old Ways as an experimental means of controlling runaway caster utility. We've forgotten so much, and so much has been removed from the original conception of the game, for reasons of convenience or annoyance, that we do not often enough stop to think about the mechanical impact these changes have had. Material components for thought. :)
 

ECMO3

Hero
Soul coins??? What? Those super-rare things that we have scrimped together to power our Tormenter?

Seriously. We are dirt poor. I have been casting Create Food and Water since 5th level because we can't afford food (or want to risk eating what we can get.) We have 8 soul coins between the 3 of us and we use them as gas. When we get back to Maggie, I will try get components but we have nowhere near enough money to afford the spells I want.
If you are dirt poor you probably should not be looking for expensive components or taking spells that require them.

I would say a single soul coin could probably be bartered for 2 or 3 diamonds for revivify. I would think Maggie (or her redcaps) might barter for services. Bel, Arkhan or Mahadi might also barter services for components if you can find them.

If you are traveling with Lulu or Monocolor and you are evil you could probably offer to turn them over to any highly placed Devil for some components.
 

JAMUMU

go, hunt. kill haribos.
In low-effort "fun" games, I'll do a straight gp conversion and there'll be no hassle gaining these components. In a game with a more serious tone/playstyle, I make the PCs trek to where you would logically find that stuff. So dwarves or high-end gem-dealers for the 1000gp diamond, or maybe an abbey where they keep them on hand (but then you'd have to persuade them to part with it, and probably pay a premium if you're just 'stocking up'). Expensive incense you could buy from any large religious establishment. Expensive, heavy chests you might need to commission, unless you're in a large city.

Even in cities I'm more likely to ask a player to "roll for availability" for big-ticket component items, rather than them rocking up to Rocko's Classy Components with their pouches open.
 

bloodtide

Adventurer
As a Hard Fun DM, I will have the players just live with never being able to cast some spells as they can't get expensive components. And when they buy components they use up money that they could have used for other things. And so on.

After all, SO MANY players refuse to change anything about the game...even more so spells. THEY will scream about how perfect the rules are and how "we" can't change them. I might ask if they would approve a simple fix or two and they scream no.

So, when it comes to expensive spell components, I just agree with their standing. Sorry, you got to have that 5000 gold diamond, says right there on the page, in the rules. Nothing we can do.....
 


Stormonu

Legend
As a side note, I cut my teeth on B/X D&D and it quite some time before I switched to AD&D. I mention this because B/X spells didn't require components at all, so I played for a fair amount of time without components at all.
 

TolkienThePiss

Explorer
I'm a stickler for the component rules - you have to have the item on you before you cast - and no just deducting the gold and adding it to our inventory. However, I regularly have spellcasting opponents drop material components (I made a table!) and always have plenty of downtime so for the most part characters can hunt down or commission expensive components or other items.

It's kind of fun, as a player finding that random material component can push them to try out spells they otherwise wouldn't have bothered with.
 

If you are dirt poor you probably should not be looking for expensive components or taking spells that require them.

I would say a single soul coin could probably be bartered for 2 or 3 diamonds for revivify. I would think Maggie (or her redcaps) might barter for services. Bel, Arkhan or Mahadi might also barter services for components if you can find them.

If you are traveling with Lulu or Monocolor and you are evil you could probably offer to turn them over to any highly placed Devil for some components.
Sadly, we double-crossed Arkhan, there's bad blood between us and Bel, we haven't been able to locate the Bazar so we've never met Mahadi, and and Red Ruth put a 10k soul coin bounty on our head. We haven't been making friends(except Lulu, of course - and we'd never turn her in!). I imagine the bounty is going to prevent us from making any good deals in any towns. But, who knows: when we get ambushed, the bounty hunters might have material components!
 

Note: I don't play or run 5e, so this is speaking far more generally. Should've paid more attention to the thread tag, but I got more than halfway through the response below before I realized, and figured it was still worth posting even if it's not necessarily relevant.

I mostly invent them on-the-spot (with occasional help from online name generators) and set prices which seem reasonable based on the economics of the situation. That's only for fancy ingredients though, stuff you have to do dangerous things to acquire (or which takes a long time to grow or the like), which then gets used to make a special potion or forge a new item or whatever.

For "repeat use" material components? I usually don't bother, or I treat it like buying ammunition--you pay a certain amount and you get the flexible timey-wimey charges to pull out of your pouch. I find being a real stickler about expensive material components--unless it's for something special, unusual, or out of the ordinary, is just...not fun. So I don't really track it.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I generally allow straight conversion of gold in inventory to component. Though some thinks like secret chest may also require downtime.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Yes, sometimes indirectly. There's what you mentioned, and also finding fire lily flowers for an alchemist. The part can keep a third of what they find which lets them cast fire spells at +1/die, or something like that.
For a fun mechanic, replace 1s with max value on the die.

So instead of 6d6+6 you get 6d6 but each 1 is +5.

The bonus is a bit less than +6 (5/6 per die instead of +1 per die), but it doesn't raise the max.

It is reasonably VTT friendly -- just look at the 1s and add a bonus.
 
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