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

How about those for a house rule: Casting a spell without it's required material components raises the spell's level by 1. For example, casting Resurrection without the 1,000 gold piece diamond would raise the spell's level to 8th. If this would raise the spell's level above 9th then it is not an option.
 

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How about those for a house rule: Casting a spell without it's required material components raises the spell's level by 1. For example, casting Resurrection without the 1,000 gold piece diamond would raise the spell's level to 8th. If this would raise the spell's level above 9th then it is not an option.
I like the idea but I'd prefer a personal 'energy' sacrifice. Like, taking Hit Point damage or Stat damage to power your spells. Something like that. Sadly, 5e doesn't include that kind of thing.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
....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......
No most of those spells are kind of powerful. I just tell my players if they in a big town to convert GP to material component.
I haven't update the spell cost list but
 

jasper

Rotten DM
I think this is my most recent list. C means consumed
Arcane Lock - 25 gp gold dust C
Acana Sword - 250 gp miniature platinum sword
Astral Projection -1,000 gp piece of Jacinth C, 100 gp silver bar for each creature C
Augury - 25 gp tokens
Awaken - 1,000 gp agate C
Booming Blade – 1 sp melee weapon
Ceremony – 25 gp powder silver C
Circle of Death - 500 gp black pearl
Chromatic Orb – 50 gp diamond
Clairvoyance Focus - 100 gp horn/ eye
Clone- 1,000 gp diamond C,
2,000 gp coffin
Contingency -1,500 gp statuette
Continual Flame - 50 gp ruby dust C
Create Homunculus – 1000 gp dagger
Create Undead - 150 gp black onyx per corpse
Dawn – 100 gp Sunburst pendant
Divination -25 gp offering incense C
Find Familiar - 10 gp of herbs and spices C, brass brazier
Find the Path- 100 gp divinatory tools
Forbiddance- 1000 gp ruby dust, rare incense
Forcecage -1,500 gp ruby dust
Gate- 5,000 gp diamond
Gentle Repose – 2 cp pinch of salt
Glyph of Warding - 200 gp diamond dust C and incense C
Greater restoration -100 gp diamond dust C
Green Flame Blade – 1 sp melee weapon
Guards and Wards -10 gp silver rod
Hallow -1,000 gp herbs & Spices C
Heroes’ Feast -1,000 gp gem encrusted bowl C
Holy Aura- 1,000 gp reliquary
Identify -100 gp pearl
Illusory Script -10 gp lead base ink C
Imprisonment -500 gp per hit die statuette
Instant Summons - 1,000 gp sapphire
Invulnerability – 500 gp adamantine C
Legend Lore - 250 gp incense C, 50 gp each 4 ivory strips
Magic Circle- 100 gp silver dust C
Magic Jar- 500 gp gem
Magic Mouth -10 gp jade dust C
Magnificent Mansion -15 gp polished marble, ivory door mini, silver spoon
Mighty Fortress – 500 gp diamond C
NonDetection- 25 gp diamond dust C
Planar Ally various min 100 gp
Planar Binding - 1,000 gp jewel C
Plane Shift- 250 gp tuning fork attuned to plane.
Programmed Illusion- 25 gp jade dust
Project Image - 5 gp replica
Protection from Evil and Good -1 gp silver dust & iron dust C, or
25 gp holy water C
Raise Dead -500 gp diamond C
Reincarnate -1,000 gp rare oils C
Resurrection- 1,000 gp diamond C
Reverse Gravity- 1 gp lodestone and iron filings
Revivify -300 gp loose diamonds C
Scrying -1,000 gp crystal ball focus
Secret Chest- 5,000 gp chest 50 gp replica chest
Sequester 5,000 gp mixture of diamond, emerald, ruby, sapphire dust C
Shadow of Moil – 150 gp undead eyeball incase in gem
Shapechange 1,500 gp jade circlet
Simulacrum -1,500 gp ruby dust, snow man and piece of subject. Repair 100 gp per hit point
Soul Cage – 100 gp tiny silver cage
Steel Wind Strike – 1 sp melee weapon
Stoneskin- 100 gp diamond dust C
Summon Aberration- pickled tentacle, eyeball, 400 GP platinum vial
Summon Beast – gilded acorn 200 gp
Summon Celestial – golden reliquary 500 gp
Summon Construct- lockbox 400 gp
Summon Elemental – gold inlaid vial 400 gp
Summon Fey – gilded flower 300 GP
Summon Fiend – ruby vial 600 GP
Summon Shadowspawn – tears in gem 300 gp
Summon Undead – gilded skull 300 gp
Sunbeam -100 gp magnifying glass
Symbol - 1,000 gp diamond & opal dust C
Tasha’s Otherworldly Guise – object 500 gp
Temple of the Gods – 5 gp holy symbol
Teleportation Circle -50 gp rare chalk gem dust C, 18,250 gp + 1 year to be permanent
True Resurrection -25,000 gp loose diamonds C
True Seeing -25 gp ointment
Wall of Light – 5 gp hand mirror
Warding Bond- 100 gp 2 platinum rings

Grand total 91,342 gp 3 sp 2 cp
Consumed 41,825 gp or 60,155 gp
Non consumed 31,187 gp 3 sp 2 cp
*****
So by the time you could cast some of these spells, your cut of the treasure should cover the cost of casting.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
....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......
No most of those spells are kind of powerful. I just tell my players if they in a big town to convert GP to material component.
I haven't update the spell cost list but
Quite a few of them have not so arbitrary legacy reasons that no longer apply. 5e chromatic orb takes a 50gp diamond & allows the caster to choose the damage type but that's no longer meaningful in ways that it was in some of the past editions
 

foreverelf

DM since 1990
You can ask yourself : How does having access to X has an impact on my story?
You can always declare an event which will make resource X scarce or temporarily non-existent in order to limit its availability, so it's not all about money.
Or , how would a powerful spellcaster react if there was a shortage of components? Prices would go up...a lot (just like in real life) and all the NPCs spellcasters would also be affected, making them even insanely more expensive or forcing them to take them by force, for instance.

Ingredients are / can be a story driver but if what really matters to you is a power imbalance (and it's a 1e legacy issue ) many people here have suggested amazing and creative solutions if you're not afraid of tinkering with the rules @TaranTheWanderer gave a great advice on that!
 



Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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?
I roll to see if the town has it. The larger the town/city, the more likely. Diamonds are also easier to find than say the special incense and ivory strips for Legend Lore. Other times I handwave it. This last session the sorcerer needed more special chalk for his teleportation circles. They were in the main temple of Mystra and had done the temple multiple important favors, so I just told him that they give him enough to bring him up to 10 uses. No roll.
 

delericho

Legend
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?
In my case, we never had to deal with anything more exotic than some diamond dust for stoneskin, and the region the campaign took place in had no settlements above a certain size (in one case, the setting was Lamordia in Ravenloft, so there was no opportunity to find a bigger settlement). Since I didn't want to semi-arbitrarily block the casting of some spells, it was therefore a simple gold exchange.

In a more elaborate campaign, I might limit some of the more unique items (such as the keys for plane shift for example). But since it hasn't come up, I haven't made any real decisions there.

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.
As far as I can see, material components do two jobs: they add some flavour to spellcasting, and the expensive ones add some balance to more powerful spells. Except that I don't think they do an especially good job of either - the balance of spells is already fairly wild, so adding expensive components doesn't actually help; and most spellcasters now use focuses to skip using expensive material components anyway.

So for the most part I chalk them up as being "too much hassle to be worthwhile", and accept that the story is therefore a little weird.
 

delericho

Legend
At the risk of a derail, here's (roughly) what I would do with components, given a clean slate to work from:

  1. Rebalance all spells to remove the need for expensive components. That may mean some spells need moved up a level.
  2. All spells now require Verbal, Somatic, and Material components. The Material component can be anything thematically appropriate, either to the spell or to the caster - they're not specified in the book. Players are encouraged, but not required, to provide some description of how they cast the spell, in the same way that casters of martial characters are encouraged but not required to describe how they make their attacks.
  3. A character using a spell focus can skip using any one of the three components. Most Wizards therefore cast spells with a flick of their wand and a magic word.
  4. A character can also remove any one of the three components by using an action to "pre-cast" part of the spell. This can be combined with the focus, as above.
  5. A character can also remove all components by using a slot one level higher, but gains no other benefits of doing so.
  6. I would then introduce four types of "expensive" material components: Lore, Special Materials, Reagents, and Residuum. These cannot be purchased - they must either be created in downtime or found while adventuring. (I'll get to why there are four different ones later...)
  7. Casters can optionally use an expensive component when casting a spell (the value consumed depends on the spell level). This allows the spell to be cast as if using a slot one level higher, to a maximum of the highest level slot the caster could normally use. (So a 7th level Wizard could use it to boost a fireball, but not an ice storm. Only one boost is allowed in this manner, and it is always added last.
  8. But those same four types of components are also used to craft magic items, and Wizards use Lore to learn new spells. (Which is why there are different types, so different items can require different costs. Lore, as the name implies, is secret knowledge. Special Materials are things like meteorite iron, religious icons, or whatever. Reagents are similar but much more organic - unicorn horn, dragon's tears, mistletoe, etc. And Residuum is raw, unprocessed magic.)
  9. Under this model, a captured spellbook provides a source of Lore that can be repurposed for any use, rather than a textbook allowing you to learn the specific spells therein. (Under this model, a spell is effectively a cheat code for reality, but they're encrypted for the specific caster. So you can't learn a spell directly, you have to learn the techniques to allow you to derive your own cheat code.)

There's more, but that's enough, and the whole thing would need some more fleshing out anyway. So I'll stop there.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
Lack of ready availability of rare/expensive components in campaigns such as Descent into Avernus, Tomb of Annihilation, Curse of Strahd, Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden and others set in remote/unsettled regions is a feature, not a bug. Note that there ARE ways to get at least some of the things you need in all of those campaigns, but those can become a plot point in themselves.

I bet there's a devil who would be happy to get you some diamonds for the right price.
 


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Inexpensive material components are just like weapons - you have a way to disarm people you capture instead of kill, and that once or twice a campaign adventure where you don't have any equipment.

Expensive material components on the other hand are supposed to act as a throttle. Spells that shouldn't be cast all the time because they lose any magicalyness. If every day you do three different divinations and a Heroes' Feast, that's becomes "standard".

I was a player in Avernus, and I knew that I would have precious little chances to get specific expensive components, so I took that into consideration when picking new spells every level.

In a campaign I'm currently running the players started as agents of the empire that can request any mundane equipment, get post horses, etc. And they all started with a Mask of the Imperium, an artifact that both showed their authority but also grew in power as they adventured. They were solving problems, not looting ancient tombs, and money would be a lot lower. So I cut the cost of all expensive material components to 1/3, and because it made sense in-world they could also substitute diamonds for any other specific component. Making it easy to have what they needed, while still keeping the appropriate throttle.
 



iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I can't believe Identify is still a thing...
It sees regular use in my games because it's faster to ritually cast identify than to take a short rest to figure out the item's properties. Time is a resource in my games and the challenges become more difficult if the PCs aren't making efficient use of their time. The 50 or so minutes saved means that the have more wiggle room when it comes to the doom clock and/or fewer wandering monster checks, get more mileage out of hour-long resources, etc.

If time doesn't matter as much and it's easy to rest, then I'd expect identify has less value.
 


ECMO3

Hero
Protection from Evil and Good -1 gp silver dust & iron dust C, or
25 gp holy water C

Has this been errated to have a cost? The PHB I have does not list a cost, which has always caused problems with how much holy water or how much powdered silver is needed. We have generally played you must have some powered silver or holy water and just sprinkle it (so you never run out).
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Has this been errated to have a cost? The PHB I have does not list a cost, which has always caused problems with how much holy water or how much powdered silver is needed. We have generally played you must have some powered silver or holy water and just sprinkle it (so you never run out).
No. But when I was creating the list way back in 2016 I made a guess at things which listed a material component but did not give a price. So some of the prices will need to be adjusted for your world.
 

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