D&D 5E Material Components: How Hard to Find in Your Games?

schnee

First Post
Well you can have that opinion, but those spells have had components similar to that for years, so while they may sound jokey, that doesn't change the fact you were supposed to keep track of them back then... or now, if you do not have a component pouch or focus.

Regardless, they aren't just for flavor or focus- they're there to represent what's needed to cast the spell, the mundane items that have some sort of tie to the magic you're channeling through your body. And while it's easier than ever to do so thanks to the equipment available in 5e with regards to 0 gp cost components, that doesn't mean they're just flavor.

There are no mechanics in the game for needing to search for them, the chance for finding them or not, the odds of your 'live' spider being alive or dead, costs, or where or how or who to get the more exotic components from. There are no charts, percentage chances, DCs, prices, or any necessity for a die roll - the lifeblood of D&D.

That's why 5E completely abstracts them with named spell foci (for classes beyond the Cleric) and - for the first time I've seen - an explicit 'component pouch that has all your stuff'. They simplified and streamlined this edition in all sorts of ways, and this was one of them.

For example, say you get beaten to 0 hp and captured, thrown in jail. All your spells require physical components of some sort. Are you going to say to your DM "But that's just for flavor and fun!"?

Of course you take a ridiculous position and attempt to make it my ridiculous position.

There is a vast difference between the heroes having their resources taken away as part of events that unfold as a part of the central conflict of the game, VERSUS being forced to do silly item acquisition side-quests to allow someone to use an ability that the game grants them automatically. ("So, you gained the Mending cantrip on level up, but you don't have any Lodestones. You're in the middle of a low tech region, so there's no way to get them for the next three weeks. Too bad, no casting for you!")

Heroic fantasy is rife with examples of not having what you need at times, or being low on food and water, or not being able to take everything you want that isn't nailed down.

If that's how your game works, more power to you. That's not how mine go, and that's not how the default game goes. I prefer games where player's actually have to make choices and pay attention. Otherwise I'd just do MMOs all day where no one cares about stuff like that.

You're conflating things here, and presuming a lot. Most of it snobby and negative. And it's telling how you go right to the video game.

'Actually have to make choices and pay attention'... to what? Character development? Plot arcs? Dishonest NPCs? Political conflicts? Patterns of monster appearances? Odd behavior of loyal allies? How does nitpicky tracking of spell components drive any of that?

Or... (since turnabout is fair play) "Ok, when you fell off the bridge and failed your Dex save, you see you fell on your spellcasting pouch and smashed it. So, your spider web is now mashed up in the iron filings so until you go back to town you can't cast Web or Flaming Sphere. Also, (consults chart for several minutes) it's been two months since you last harvested Mistletoe, so it was dry and got crushed. Your Shillelagh has a 50% chance of not working until you can harvest it again under the full moon with a silver sickle into a pearl bowl. Oh, wait, your bowl is cracked too. And it's...(consults another chart) three weeks until the next full moon."
 

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Iry

Hero
Jewelcrafting Proficiency is really convenient. You can take any larger gem and cut them down into smaller gems of the exact value you need for material components, have the equipment to powder gems, and can even earn a decent sum in your downtime cutting and selling gems (sometimes even to other spellcasters).

It's a great plot point and good for networking. Sure you might get attacked by bandits and the occasional greedy spellcaster who wants your gems, but that's half the fun. :)
 

Hiya!

I use a nice list from a Dragon magazine from waaaaay back when. Can't remember the number of it, but it was updated and 'reprinted' in the Players Option: Spells & Magic book (the "2.5e" version of AD&D, basically).

Anyway, in it, it has a cost and an availability, and where you can probably attain that particular component. I enforce this in any/all of my 1e/2e/Hackmaster games. With 5e, I basically let the players 'get away' with just the cop-out default method of "here's a focus" or "here's a component bag". BUT...if the player takes time, spends money and puts effort into attaining the specific material component for that spell, when he casts it, it will be "better". Double range, or at least average damage per die, or advantage/disadvantage on saves, or something else like that.

By encouraging the use of 'specific materials', it really helps with the mystique of being a spell-caster. It also changes the "rules-mastery player" paradigm; that is, players can't just look at the book and say "Ok, stay at least 61' away from him and he can't get you with [insert spell]"...because maybe he actually has the specific material component for it and his range is doubled.

^_^

Paul L. Ming

Yes, neat, it was in Dragon #81 if anyone is interested.
 

KahlessNestor

Adventurer
I won't show you that, because that's not what you originally stated. I will however show the text where you stated...



The game being set up to do something does not equal the game saying you must do something.


Anyway, even if the default was foci/pouches (which it's not. You can choose not to take one if you want for whatever reason), those can still be lost or destroyed. If they are lost or destroyed, you need to get those components somehow until you can get a replacement.

Convenient how you just ignore and don't quote the actually relevant part of my post, the very next sentence:

The default 5e has you pick a focus or component pouch and forget about it, except for expensive components.

That is pick a casting method and forget. There is absolutely NOTHING in the rules about keeping track of bat guano, and spider webs, and mistletoe, iron shavings, or the like. Nothing. The given components in the spell listings are purely for fluff, or if you WANT to play that way (most don't, and it's not the way official Organized Play (default) 5e is done). That is a completely different situation from those very rare times when the DM specifically contrives to remove you from your gear. Does that mean that fighters are always "tracking" their sword? Hardly. I guarantee you would have a lot less spellcasters if they had to go through the annoyance of tracking bat guano. Just where on the character sheet are they supposed to do that?
 

Nevvur

Explorer
So, my question is how difficult do you in your game make the acquisition of material components of non-mundane types for your casters and do you allow a "spellcasting focus" to be used as a more or less generic solution to the more difficult to have (though not defined cost in GP - see blood above) cases?

Trying to get more of a sense of the division (of this forum GMs set) along the spectrum between "pricey components are just a tax on spell casting" view on one side to the "getting non-common components is a story element that plays a big role in gameplay and story" view on the other end and all points between and off-shoots and tangents.

In my setting, it's relatively easy to acquire material components for all spells, but that's because I use a generic magical substance that replaces them. Material components have just never been a fun thing for me as a player or a DM. Moreover, as I wrote with increasingly greater detail about the spiritual and magical aspects of existence in my world, I struggled to find a coherent reason for why bat guano or spider silk should have anything to do with magic other than tradition, and I was happy to buck tradition.

A more detailed explanation of how I treat material components appears below:
[sblock]All material components, including spellcasting foci, are adross. Adross is the energy of the astral plane (pure creative energy in my cosmology) congealed into solid form on the material plane. It grows naturally at ley line crossings, and a small amount can be generated with a ritual all spellcasters learn as part of their craft. It is worth 100x its weight in gold, and functions as a form of currency in large cities and among magic using organizations.

There are two main kinds of adross, dynamic and harmonic. Dynamic adross replaces any material component with a GP cost where the component is consumed in the casting. It is generic energy that can be used for any such spell. If you have 600 GP worth of dynamic adross, you could cast Greater Restoration up to 6 times or Raise Dead once (and have 100 GP left over). Dynamic adross is also used in the creation of consumable magic items like potions and scrolls.

Harmonic adross is created through a ritual cast on dynamic adross which attunes its astral energy to a specific effect. It is used to create spellcasting foci, permanent magical items, and material components with a GP cost which are not consumed in casting. In this last case, the harmonic adross can only be used to cast that spell. For instance, you might have a 50 GP adross item to cast Chromatic Orb, and a 100 GP adross item for Identify. You couldn't use the Identify adross for Chromatic Orb, even though its worth more, because it's attuned to a different spell.

In its natural, physical form, adross has a crystalline structure similar to salt. However, most spellcasters prefer to infuse it into a mundane object for ease of handling. In this way, players can choose literally any mundane object to serve as an expression of their magic. Necromancer? How about all material components are bones infused with adross? A paladin needs only his holy symbol, but that symbol itself has been infused, whether it appears on a shield or as prayer beads. A druid's holy symbol could be a nature god's symbol, a sprig of holly, or a kris blade.

Rangers and bards require attention due to these changes. Rangers can use a druidic spellcasting focus, and bards can use an instrument or an arcane focus. There's some fluff in the lore about how instruments shape bardic magic.
[/sblock]
 

Coroc

Hero
I use a 5000 silver cost for raise dead, resurrection if available at all, might only be done for the own faith and would be 20000 silver -in my campaign one silver has approx. the worth of one gold in RAW campaigns.

Besides that i do not use material components - so far. If there is a case of it in the future, then either you need to be in a big city to buy these or do a quest to obtain them.
 

mikal768

Explorer
Convenient how you just ignore and don't quote the actually relevant part of my post, the very next sentence:

Because the relevant claim was the part I quoted?


That is pick a casting method and forget. There is absolutely NOTHING in the rules about keeping track of bat guano, and spider webs, and mistletoe, iron shavings, or the like. Nothing.

Except for the fact if you don't have access to your spell focus or component pouch you have to start keeping track...


The given components in the spell listings are purely for fluff, or if you WANT to play that way (most don't, and it's not the way official Organized Play (default) 5e is done).

Be sure to tell your DM that if you ever get captured and all your stuff confiscated and you then need to escape.

That is a completely different situation from those very rare times when the DM specifically contrives to remove you from your gear. Does that mean that fighters are always "tracking" their sword? Hardly. I guarantee you would have a lot less spellcasters if they had to go through the annoyance of tracking bat guano. Just where on the character sheet are they supposed to do that?

Oh, so it's just fluff... until it's no longer just fluff? That makes sense (no it doesn't). And yes, actually a fighter does keep track of their weapon. For melee fighters, it's pretty much an X or Y situation where X= weapon Y= no weapon.
And for ranged fighters its keeping track of their ammunition in addition to their weapon. Sort of like how a caster has spells with material components and spells without.

So I guess a player who didn't have access to a component pouch or focus for any length of time would probably track it the same way those ranged fighters do... you know. That area called "equipment" on the sheet? Or perhaps a sheet of paper?

There are no mechanics in the game for needing to search for them, the chance for finding them or not, the odds of your 'live' spider being alive or dead, costs, or where or how or who to get the more exotic components from. There are no charts, percentage chances, DCs, prices, or any necessity for a die roll - the lifeblood of D&D.

Man if only there was some sort of way to adjudicate challenges based on existing attributes... or some way to get bonuses on those with skills or the like. If you as a DM can't put something that basic together... well.. everyone needs to start somewhere I guess.

That's why 5E completely abstracts them with named spell foci (for classes beyond the Cleric) and - for the first time I've seen - an explicit 'component pouch that has all your stuff'. They simplified and streamlined this edition in all sorts of ways, and this was one of them.

Yes, and I use them. However, that doesn't mean the rules don't say "you need components". They just provided an easy way to do so. But just because it's available doesn't mean it's always going to be available. Stuff happens. And the default assumption is, again that certain spells require components. Some of them are cheap, and can be substituted, and some of them are costly, and can't.

Of course you take a ridiculous position and attempt to make it my ridiculous position.

You're the one who claimed that material components are just for fluff and that component pouches and focii, while important, should not always be relied upon. I then asked you simply whether or not that happened to a PC of yours whether your response would be "It's fluff" or not. Since you know, you claimed it was...

There is a vast difference between the heroes having their resources taken away as part of events that unfold as a part of the central conflict of the game, VERSUS being forced to do silly item acquisition side-quests to allow someone to use an ability that the game grants them automatically. ("So, you gained the Mending cantrip on level up, but you don't have any Lodestones. You're in the middle of a low tech region, so there's no way to get them for the next three weeks. Too bad, no casting for you!")

...Where did I ever state that I defaulted to no component pouches or focii? All I've stated is that the default assumption of the game is use of material components. That means for non-expensive items you a) Use the components that you gather yourself b) Use a spell focus c) use a component pouch.

You're the one stating that components don't matter, when they do. You're the one stating they're just for fluff, when they aren't. I'm stating they are important, and you shouldn't assume you will always have a component pouch or spell focus handy for them.

Or... (since turnabout is fair play) "Ok, when you fell off the bridge and failed your Dex save, you see you fell on your spellcasting pouch and smashed it. So, your spider web is now mashed up in the iron filings so until you go back to town you can't cast Web or Flaming Sphere. Also, (consults chart for several minutes) it's been two months since you last harvested Mistletoe, so it was dry and got crushed. Your Shillelagh has a 50% chance of not working until you can harvest it again under the full moon with a silver sickle into a pearl bowl. Oh, wait, your bowl is cracked too. And it's...(consults another chart) three weeks until the next full moon."

That would be an interesting way to play it. I might have to see if the players in my game want that level of verisimilitude or not. Of course, most of them use spell focuses in the first place precisely because it's easier to hold onto them (spell component pouches do look like coin purses after all, and they travel in areas that aren't... well let's say very respectful of another persons personal belongings).
 

schnee

First Post
You're the one who claimed that material components are just for fluff and that component pouches and focii, while important, should not always be relied upon.

I absolutely did not say that.

All I've stated is that the default assumption of the game is use of material components. That means for non-expensive items you a) Use the components that you gather yourself b) Use a spell focus c) use a component pouch.

You're the one stating that components don't matter, when they do. You're the one stating they're just for fluff, when they aren't. I'm stating they are important, and you shouldn't assume you will always have a component pouch or spell focus handy for them.

Nope, not at all. Since this has gotten really out of hand, once more, just to make it clear: Yes, players need material components, spell foci, or the pouch. If they have none of those things, then their spells are limited. That is literally in the rules. That was never my point.

My actual point - for non-consumable, non-expensive components, there is absolutely no reason to devote any game time or thought beyond 'they have them' or 'they don't'. Because if you do, that falls on the level of 'Fighter using whetstone to sharpen sword during short rests' or 'Assassin buying more face paint for the disguise kit'. Those things are the equivalent of tying your shoes. It's not worth devoting game time to them. Every campaign I've ever played in just hand-waves it away. It's kind of fun a few times at most, but then everyone forgets about it, because it's dull.

So, when I say 'they're fluff', that's what I mean, because it is absolutely absurd to say they 'matter'. Sure, they matter. The fighter having a sword matters. A rogue having tools matters. So what? It's a think you put on your sheet once and then forget about - because the game isn't managing and acquiring components. It's exploring dungeons and slaying dragons.

The only time it matters (for non-consumed cheap components) is if gear is stripped away. 90% of the time that is a gambit of hack DMs who think 'your butler was the big bad evil guy the whole time is the pinnacle of plot.

That's why I'm being a bit bold here; I've had campaigns where the DM jerks players around on stupid things like that, and all it really does is add frustration and micro-management mini games. Most spell components should be, in the game, functionally equivalent to a Backpack. You need a Backpack? Buy a backpack. You need a focus? Buy one. You need a component pouch? Buy one. Done. The only components that need game-time beyond that are a) expensive and/or b) consumed.
 
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On the occasion. Many spell casters in my game use a spell focus so non-consumable components are generally okay. I like to use a light touch because it adds yet another aspect to the game, competing for play-minutes with the rest of the story and characters. Also as a DM I have to find ways to work component use and discovery into the game, so more work for me for negligible benefit to everyone's overall game experience. Most players don't care and I don't want to have more overhead regarding class abilities for one class vs another where possible. Generally as long as a player has the GP to cover an expensive spell component, I expect them to pay it and we move on.
 

5ekyu

Hero
In my setting, it's relatively easy to acquire material components for all spells, but that's because I use a generic magical substance that replaces them. Material components have just never been a fun thing for me as a player or a DM. Moreover, as I wrote with increasingly greater detail about the spiritual and magical aspects of existence in my world, I struggled to find a coherent reason for why bat guano or spider silk should have anything to do with magic other than tradition, and I was happy to buck tradition.

A more detailed explanation of how I treat material components appears below:
[sblock]All material components, including spellcasting foci, are adross. Adross is the energy of the astral plane (pure creative energy in my cosmology) congealed into solid form on the material plane. It grows naturally at ley line crossings, and a small amount can be generated with a ritual all spellcasters learn as part of their craft. It is worth 100x its weight in gold, and functions as a form of currency in large cities and among magic using organizations.

There are two main kinds of adross, dynamic and harmonic. Dynamic adross replaces any material component with a GP cost where the component is consumed in the casting. It is generic energy that can be used for any such spell. If you have 600 GP worth of dynamic adross, you could cast Greater Restoration up to 6 times or Raise Dead once (and have 100 GP left over). Dynamic adross is also used in the creation of consumable magic items like potions and scrolls.

Harmonic adross is created through a ritual cast on dynamic adross which attunes its astral energy to a specific effect. It is used to create spellcasting foci, permanent magical items, and material components with a GP cost which are not consumed in casting. In this last case, the harmonic adross can only be used to cast that spell. For instance, you might have a 50 GP adross item to cast Chromatic Orb, and a 100 GP adross item for Identify. You couldn't use the Identify adross for Chromatic Orb, even though its worth more, because it's attuned to a different spell.

In its natural, physical form, adross has a crystalline structure similar to salt. However, most spellcasters prefer to infuse it into a mundane object for ease of handling. In this way, players can choose literally any mundane object to serve as an expression of their magic. Necromancer? How about all material components are bones infused with adross? A paladin needs only his holy symbol, but that symbol itself has been infused, whether it appears on a shield or as prayer beads. A druid's holy symbol could be a nature god's symbol, a sprig of holly, or a kris blade.

Rangers and bards require attention due to these changes. Rangers can use a druidic spellcasting focus, and bards can use an instrument or an arcane focus. There's some fluff in the lore about how instruments shape bardic magic.
[/sblock]

thank you!!!

I find that approach very interesting and can see it being quite useful and flavorful.
 

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