D&D 5E Summon Greater Demon, Arcane Focus and blood of a humanoid killed in the last 24 hours

ECMO3

Hero
Summon Greater Demon lists the following material component:

"a vial of blood from a humanoid killed within the past 24 hours"

It also has the following text:

"As part of casting the spell, you can form a circle on the ground with the blood used as a material component. The circle is large enough to encompass your space. While the spell lasts, the summoned demon can’t cross the circle or harm it, and it can’t target anyone within it. Using the material component in this manner consumes it when the spell ends."

This is a component without a listed cost, so RAW I can cast the spell with a component pouch or an Arcane Focus. This causes a lot of questions:

1. Can I use the Arcane focus to draw the protection circle and if I do is the focus consumed? I would think the answer is no, I can cast it with the focus, but I can't draw the circle to protect myself with the focus, that is only if you actually use the blood.

2. If I am using a component pouch does the pouch always have a vial of blood of a human killed in the last 24 hours? This seems a bit off - what if you have been in your bedroom for 24 hours and haven't killed anyone, does the vial of blood just magically refresh in the pouch? Also if the pouch always has this then why does it matter if it is consumed anyway?
 

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cbwjm

Seb-wejem
I think your assumption for part 1 is correct, since the blood gets consumed, you can't create the circle with just a focus, you'll have to make do with maintaining control of the demon and the risk of it breaking free.

2 is a little weird. In all honesty, I'd probably ignore RAW for this spell with regard to a component pouch, changing it so it can't cover something like the blood requirement.
 


jgsugden

Legend
Sage advice from 2017 makes it clear you can use a focus, but to get the circle you need actual humanoid blood. There are two weak arguments that say this is the wrong call - one very weak, and one moderate weak.

...But if a cost is indicated for a component, a character must have that specific component before he or she can cast the spell...
Weaker argument: They do not list a price in the PHB, but killing a humanoid does come with a cost. I think they failed to think about this when writing the book, but if they had they would have prohibited the use of a spell component pouch or focus. However, they did not think of it and under RAW ...
...If a spell states that a material component is consumed by the spell, the caster must provide this component for each casting of the spell...
Slightly stronger argument: The above is the next sentence in the arcane focus section. It can be interpreted to say that if a spell description says a component is consumed, you MUST provide the component for each casting. The description does say the component is consumed when the spell ends under certain considerations. The requirement that the spell component must be provided if consumed does not say that you don't need it when the consumption is conditional. Accordingly, there is an argument that you always need the blood because it can be consumed by the spell. Again - not the strongest argument, but this type of logic has won out before in more important places than this...
 

I would argue that this really comes down to WotC wanting to apply a general rule but being understandably squeemish about putting a money price on freshly collected vile of blood. I wouldn't allow the spell without blood collecting (trivial on about half of an adventurer's workdays, a serious expense many of the others, always suitably creepy and grimdark for a demonologist).
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Slightly stronger argument: The above is the next sentence in the arcane focus section. It can be interpreted to say that if a spell description says a component is consumed, you MUST provide the component for each casting.
It’d be pretty hard to interpret it any other way, since that’s exactly what it says.
The description does say the component is consumed when the spell ends under certain considerations. The requirement that the spell component must be provided if consumed does not say that you don't need it when the consumption is conditional.
Yeah, I think that’s the best interpretation. The spell can be cast in a way that doesn’t consume the component, or in a way that does. If you want to cast it in the way that does consume the component, then you need the actual component for it to consume. It’s practically tautological.
Accordingly, there is an argument that you always need the blood because it can be consumed by the spell. Again - not the strongest argument, but this type of logic has won out before in more important places than this...
Yeah, I this is a far weaker argument, and IMO doesn’t hold up.
 

jgsugden

Legend
It’d be pretty hard to interpret it any other way, since that’s exactly what it says.
There are countless court cases over differing opinions of literal translations. My emphasis pointed to a subtle different reading. I'll reiterate it a bit differently by asking the essential question: Do you or anyone you know eat hamburgers? Keep that answer in mind.

Going back to the text: In one interpretation, you'd read the entire section, apply the language you read to the facts at hand, and then determine if the component is being consumed in the instance of the spell you are casting. If the spell is consuming the component during the instance of the spell, the component was required.

In the other interpretation, you determine if the spell has a section that describes consuming the component. If so, the spell does state that the spell does consume the component. This is similar to how I consume hamburgers. I do not consume them all the time, obviously, but I sure as heck do consume them, and in fact, I would argue that I perhaps consume them too often. The component is consumed by the spell, just like hamburgers are consumed by me. Because the spell is a spell that consumes that material component, the spell is a spell that requires that material component in order to be cast.

You could even take this further and say that disintegrate always requires material components because the spell could target the components of the spell, and disintegration consumes a target, much like a fire consumes the material it breaks down to ash. Because disintegrate consumes objects, and your components would inherently be within range of the spell and could be consumed by it if the target of the spell, disintegrate is a spell that consumes the components. And before you say no spellcaster has ever consumed their own components with this spell: I did. Not by intent, but I cast a disintegrate spell in an older prebuilt module - and a monster covered by an illusion was a spellcaster that had spell turning up and my spellcaster disintegrated himself and everything he was carrying. That was the end of a PC I had played off and on for 8 years.

As I said - weak argument in my mind and even weaker when you take it to extremes, but similar arguments win out in court all the time.
 

Stalker0

Legend
RAW on this is pretty clear, the only material component that cannot be ignored through an arcane focus or component pouch is ones with a cost.

This component doesn’t have a cost. Now if you want to try an argue the component has a “cost” in some kind of moral terms, well that opens the door pretty wide to other components that could be considered “hard to collect”. Cost is dnd is cash, that’s just the way it is.
 

jgsugden

Legend
Not aimed at anyone specific, but in response to several opinions stated on this thread: Interpretation is a thing. When you believe you have the only correct interpretation and that is the only way to go, but there is a discussion surrounding the interpretation, you would be well served to consider the practicalities of your approach and tweak your view to be more inclusive.

If you're the DM and you set your interpretation as the rule, but you have players that see it another way, the players may not be getting the experience they would enjoy the most.

As a DM, I tend to look at the rules with the question of whether the interpretation the players are requesting is reasonable. If so, I look for ways that implement it that do not cause forseeable problems.

My usual approach ends up being a bit of a cheat: I tell them that what they think isn't how the spell/situation generally operates, but I allow them to make a roll to try to make it work that way in this situation. Some players decline and tell me that if it isn't the way, that is fine with them. Others make the roll and live by the results. Still, others either resist the roll, or make the roll and complain if it goes against them. I was never going to please the people that complained in the end - but the people that accepted the general rule without a roll are just as well off and the people that made the roll and lived by the result feel like they had a chance - and know the general rule for the future. Further, some small number of them feel like they got to do something special, which is a good feeling.

However, as a DM, sometimes the interpretation the players offer creates problems. It may be inconsistencies, or it may be broken and far too powerful. Whatever the problems, I raise them to the players and offer to discuss it. Similar to the roll discussed above, players respond to the discussion differently, but more players feel heard when you talk it through. You may have to stick with the hard ruling, but it comes off better to the players when they see you wish you could accomodate their view rather than them seeing you laying down the law.

As for those players that are coming at it as they're unsatisfied unless they get their way ... As a player, if you think you have the only reasonable interpretation and the DM disagrees ... well ... it all comes down to the type of DM you have. I have seen conflicts arise where players and DMs get mean over a ruling. I've seen it kill friendships. I've also seen it kill a game when the players throw their hands up and feel like the DM is railroading them (whether the DM is being reasonable or unreasonable). This results in players disengaging, and that is a huge game killer. If you have a DM like I describe above, however, the DM might work with you and navigate the situation ... but honestly, DMs that operate that way are fairly uncommon - which is the reason I make the suggestions above for both DMs and players - to take the path less taken.

Even if you and the DM agree on the one interpretation and another player disagrees: Telling that player they are wrong to think as they do can be a negative experience for that player and result in disengagement.

Generally speaking, the majority of negative responses revolve around someone digging in their heels. I advocate for looking at whether there is a reasonable way to interpret things as the other person has, and if so to treat it as another valid option and work out how to decide between the valid options. It works well for me.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
This is a component without a listed cost, so RAW I can cast the spell with a component pouch or an Arcane Focus. This causes a lot of questions:

1. Can I use the Arcane focus to draw the protection circle and if I do is the focus consumed? I would think the answer is no, I can cast it with the focus, but I can't draw the circle to protect myself with the focus, that is only if you actually use the blood.

2. If I am using a component pouch does the pouch always have a vial of blood of a human killed in the last 24 hours? This seems a bit off - what if you have been in your bedroom for 24 hours and haven't killed anyone, does the vial of blood just magically refresh in the pouch? Also if the pouch always has this then why does it matter if it is consumed anyway?
Yeah, the RAW says you could use an arcane focus or a spell component pouch... but the fact that you're asking questions about it suggest you know that it's hinky. The spell, as written, is supposed to be nasty. Let it be nasty and get the blood or do without the circle. If I were DMing in a situation where a player wanted to use it, that's what I'd rule.
 

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