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
Epic
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.
 

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