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5E Material components

oriaxx77

Explorer
Hey guys,

I would like to get some input on spell material components. Do you use it? Do you ignore it? How do you like it as a player, as a DM? What is your experience? etc ...
All of my friends pretty much ignore it, but I start to think it can give a very good flavor for a campaign and a bit more depth for resource management.

k.r.
Oriaxx
 

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Stalker0

Legend
My group completely ignores it except for the "jail-thief" scenario. Aka:

1) The wizard gets captured. His component pouch is removed to prevent casting of spells.
2) A thief steals the wizards pouch, preventing spell casting during a fight.


Otherwise completely ignore it.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Most of the time possession of a components pouch* and occasional small expense knock-offs to replenish it means you're good to go. Lose your pouch or have it get destroyed and you're down to only casting spells with no M component.

The exceptions are for any spell whose M component has any significant value (e.g. the 100 g.p. pearl for Identify). These have to be tracked carefully by the player(s) but are still assumed to be in the components pouch unless specified otherwise.

* - or, for Clerics, a holy symbol usually worn around the neck; which is the default reusable M component for any spell that requires one that doesn't state what the M component is.
 


Waterbizkit

Explorer
Components with a cost get tracked, especially those that get consumed by the spell. The basic components that are generally assumed to be part of owning a spell components pouch are not.

I toyed with the idea of occasionally having the characters who opted to use a components pouch over a spell focus spend the occasional bit of downtime or some trivial amount of money topping off their pouch, but in the end it seemed rather pointless. The little bit of RP to be had sending them off to look for odds & ends like bat guano or the like seemed as though it would get repetitive and having them spend even a few coppers on the otherwise "costless" components felt punitive when casters using a focus need not bother.

I genuinely feel that components with a cost need to be tracked, it's one of the potentially limiting factors of the more powerful magic and to ignore it seems like a freebie for the casters. But, everyone has those points where they prefer to draw their own line. I like to track components for spells and ammunition for ranged weapons. I also enforce encumbrance. However I've never tracked water or rations except possibly where I've made food scarcity part of the campaigns overall tone. Torches I go back & forth on.

Anyway, getting off track. To sum up, we absolutely track spell components, but only the pricey ones.
 

oriaxx77

Explorer
Components with a cost get tracked, especially those that get consumed by the spell. The basic components that are generally assumed to be part of owning a spell components pouch are not.

I toyed with the idea of occasionally having the characters who opted to use a components pouch over a spell focus spend the occasional bit of downtime or some trivial amount of money topping off their pouch, but in the end it seemed rather pointless. The little bit of RP to be had sending them off to look for odds & ends like bat guano or the like seemed as though it would get repetitive and having them spend even a few coppers on the otherwise "costless" components felt punitive when casters using a focus need not bother.

I genuinely feel that components with a cost need to be tracked, it's one of the potentially limiting factors of the more powerful magic and to ignore it seems like a freebie for the casters. But, everyone has those points where they prefer to draw their own line. I like to track components for spells and ammunition for ranged weapons. I also enforce encumbrance. However I've never tracked water or rations except possibly where I've made food scarcity part of the campaigns overall tone. Torches I go back & forth on.

Anyway, getting off track. To sum up, we absolutely track spell components, but only the pricey ones.
How does it effect the gameplay? E.g. did it cause any spectacular story elements, like fighting the main enemy they ran out of components. Do the players like it?
 

jasper

Rotten DM
I stopped not ignoring umm. Back in 1 E I had a player cast a spell which required a 10K GP component. He never had that much money in one go. Since then, I have never skipped making people track components. Now if it a causal game, you just mark of the gp as you cast it. If not a causal game then, you better have notes of when and where your bought it. One player told me he didn't like playing Accountants and Wizards. I replied "How nice".
Expensive material components are a filter for DM. And 5e only requires a Grand total 87,442 gp 1 sp 2 cp to pay for all the spells in all the main books. I think my Spell Cost chart is still on the site.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I like the idea of spell components; the combination of weird herbs and other esoterica enhances the idea of a wizard - even the most amiable and friendly - being slightly off-putting and odd. Of course, my introduction to D&D concepts was the Dragonlance Chronicles, which do an amazing job of describing abstract game mechanics in-world.

In practice, I have found spell components a major pain to track for over 25 years. I like the WotC-era approach of "pay attention to the expensive ones and handwave the rest." The 5e concept of a spell focus takes this in an even more interesting direction, and I approve.

I still like my casters to smell funny though. Old habits die hard.
 
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dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
We use them strictly---VERY strictly. If you don't have the material component (especially those with a cost), you can't cast the spell.

Pretty simple, so I don't know why people ignore it. But then again, a lot of people ignore things like encumbrance, rations, and water...
 



Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I only track component if the component is worth one gp or more. Or if the character lost its focus item somehow. Otherwise, I rely on the player's honesty.
Or in prior editions, when the component is a freaking LIVE SPIDER. I mean, how and where do you keep something like that? And why would you want to eat it? Just get a party rogue.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Well, most spell components are reduced to "Do you have a pouch or spell focus on you?" So, most of the time, I treat them like I do other mundane consumables like food - if you are in a normal area, and are paying your upkeep, you have it. They are a useful handle on scarcity scenarios, but otherwise not a big deal.

This being aside from specific components with a high cost. Those, I track more closely.
 


Or in prior editions, when the component is a freaking LIVE SPIDER. I mean, how and where do you keep something like that? And why would you want to eat it? Just get a party rogue.
Ho... in 1ed? I had an excel spread sheet for all character's components and I was keeping track of it like a raving madman. Even a failed spell would use up a component. It was really hard being a caster in 1ed...

I started to relax on components in 2nd edition. I have been tracking 1gp+ component ever since.
 

Waterbizkit

Explorer
How does it effect the gameplay? E.g. did it cause any spectacular story elements, like fighting the main enemy they ran out of components. Do the players like it?
I'd be lying outright if I said it always resulted in spectacular story moments, but I do feel it can lead to significantly more decision points for the players depending on the situation, and those in turn can impact the story. I find this particularly true on the clerical side of things, though perhaps that's where I notice it most because I run fairly brutal combats where I'm not afraid to use intelligent enemies intelligently. I do things like focus on downed characters that are still a perceived threat should they rejoin the fight, altering tactics based on what the PCs are actually doing, up to and including retreat to a stronger position (even if this means leaving the "battle map") or altering positions and patrols if the PCs do something like attack, clear an area partially and then leave. But I'm getting off track a bit.

When a Greater Restoration is actually going to cost 100gp in diamond dust per casting, Heroes Feast a 1,000gp gem-encrusted bowl per casting, or even a simple Revivify costing 300gp in diamonds per casting and you make the players consider that, they have to plan accordingly. I mean it's no wonder some folk think it's harder to threaten PCs after the first few levels in 5E if they're letting Clerics sling free Revivifies left & right. And I'm not out to kill the PCs, but I want to challenge them and the more they have to think ahead about this kind of stuff, the more they have to be prepared to both plan ahead and to alter those plans should things go sideways.

You can still say the same for more "arcane" casters though. Take something like Simulacrum. If the spell actually cost 1,500gp in powdered ruby every time it got cast, that's not necessarily something that will get abused or, if nothing else, not something the player won't take into some consideration. Or what about Teleportation Circle? In my games, and this will obviously vary for table to table so may not be applicable, I typically make sure the PCs have ample chance to befriend NPCs that will grant them access to various circles they can use as return points so they can get back to these important places/people from wherever they may be. Being able to extricate yourself from the middle of nowhere once the quest is completed is great... so long as you have that 50gp worth of chalks and inks which the spell will gobble up... if not be prepared to hoof it back to civilization.

From time to time this kind of thing leads to interesting story moments. Not being able to revive a downed ally has caused players to turn back, which in turn had lead to alterations in the adventure site, like more enemies and reinforced areas, or major alterations to the story where the PCs return and the place has cleared out... the evil ritual was completed, the enemies absconded with the precious McGuffin or maybe they just took all the generic, but still ultimately valuable treasure and scarpered off before the players could return. Likewise walking home when you thought you were going to be able to "bampf" back can lead to all kinds of fun and interesting things.

Lastly, and quickly, yes, my players seem to like it overall. I've not heard complaints and when they're planning ahead and I hear them considering things like "Well, I have three spell slots for X, but I only have enough of Y component to cast it once..." it seems to be adding that extra layer I usually hope that it will.

Anyway, I've rambled on longer than intended. That's my two bits. Hope it's helpful or at least mildly interesting.
 


Li Shenron

Legend
Pretty simple, so I don't know why people ignore it.

Because the rules tell them to? You CAN use specific material components if you want, but a focus or component pouch is so much simpler that it's no surprise few players choose to go with the specific components.

I've always found the idea of tracking specific ingredients for each spell amusing, but I would never force my players to comply with that. It's something that should stay very much voluntary. It can also create a small burden for the DM to balance the availability of all ingredients so that shortages can happen without them being frustrating.
 

For me it comes down to what type of game does the DM and players want to run? If its a meticulously tracked inventory game where encumbrance is used then Id definitely track components, how many pages each spell takes up in a spellbook and how much it weighs. Chances are a high level wizard is going to have more than one spellbook, and non-magical backpacks and pouches only hold so much. Add spell components to this and theres alot of factors that can dictate which spells are available to a wizard at any given time.

We played a campaign where we took all of this into account where I played a Mage. I remember having multiple spellbooks and having to choose which ones to take and which ones to leave behind when preparing to go out on an adventure. Including spellbooks, components, magical items and mundane equipment I could only carry so much. This was a fun campaign, made for very realistic game.

Nowadays my players and I dont care to worry about components other than really costly or rare ones. Even then as the DM this is something I'd consider before I even gave a player a spell. Its just more of a hassle to do the bookkeeping. As we only play once every 2 weeks for a few hours, it adds nothing to our game so we dont keep track of components, inventories, or even gold...within reason. I run my games off the assumption that as adventurers the players are going to be somewhat prepared for the adventuring life and can afford most of the mundane necessities of that lifestyle.
 

DnD Warlord

Explorer
When I DM I leave it for the player to track... but I try to make sure they are not too crazy “wait where did you find diamonds”.
As a pc I have played in every level of in between on this. Right now I am in a game that we don’t even really track our currency... we have a go value, but is it in gems coins (what type of gems or coins) we never track... so every identify I just mark off 100gp. Every teleport circle I just mark off the gold values. Because we are useing roll 20 it is way easier
 

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