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    Question Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    I was reading some caster vs martial arguments recently (mostly regarding 5e), started meditating on how to deal with the power/utility gap, and it occurred to me that I've never seen anyone in those argument's bring up the existence of Material Component requirements in a lot of the more powerful spells.

    Sure, it's true that fighters don't have anything like a class features that allows them to deal 10d8 damage each to 4 targets within 30 feet of one another. However, what everyone seems to forget is that if a wizard wants to do that, they should first have to use up a turn digging around in their pockets for a piece of animal fur, a small crystalline rod, and exactly 3 silver pins.

    An 11th level wizard can technically cast Chain Lighting once a day, but only as many times per expedition as they've got arcane ammo bundles each containing a scrap of fur, a small crystalline rod, and a set of 3 silver pins.

    High level magic is a lot less zany if high powered spells take an additional round to cast do to the caster needing to dig out and sort the necessary ingredients, rely on a limited supply of said ingredients, and the DM takes into account that in any setting where magic is relatively common, smart warriors are going to start holding readied actions to disrupt the first jackass they see pulling a wad of bat guano and sulfur from their back pocket.

    EDIT: Keep in mind my primary concern/idea here is finding a simple way to limit the number of big time spells a caster can use per journey out of civilization. It seems from most of the replies here, it's simply way too much of a nuance to keep track of how many individual newt eyes and frog toes a mage has, but what if M components were boiled down to a single form of scarce resource?

    No matter how rich a mage is, the most they'll ever likely to be able to buy in a given town is 1d6+4 charges of vague brand spell sauce. Costs for charges of all-purpose spell sauce can be hand-waved, while individual charges for specifically gp priced spells have to be taken out of the party bank account. Basically this would just give casters an easy to manage secondary resource track. Their spell slots have a daily cool down, but they need to refresh their 'mana' by either returning to town, or finding some intermittently in loot along the way.
    Last edited by DoomHat; 2015-10-19 at 11:54 AM.
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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    I only enforce it for the very powerful spells / very exotic components or if they have been in the wilderness fro a long time and might be running out
    For normal spells I assume that the MU has them in little pouches already labelled up and in an easy to get location

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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    Quote Originally Posted by DoomHat View Post
    An 11th level wizard can technically cast Chain Lighting once a day, but only as many times per expedition as they've got arcane ammo bundles each containing a scrap of fur, a small crystalline rod, and a set of 3 silver pins.
    Explicitly per the rules, procuring material components is part of casting the spell, and the spell pouch has infinite costless components.

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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    We enforce material components at my table for systems that has them - them's the rules, after all. The only real damper they include are for stuff that costs a hump of gold to cast each time (which you generally don't cast that often anyway), and for the casters to find and appropriate/procure the appropriate expensive foci before they can cast certain spells.
    The difference is fairly small, but it does mean that casters need to work on their equipment a bit. Melee generally are very equipment dedendent, and material components makes the difference a little smaller.
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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    Yes, I do. However, as per the rules, getting the spell component is part of the action to cast the spell, and its assumed you have everything to cast in a spell component pouch, with the exception of valuable components. Having the caster have to keep track of absolutely every single little bauble they have would add nothing to the game but a giant pain in the rear of the caster, who already has enough bookkeeping as is.
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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawkstar View Post
    Explicitly per the rules, procuring material components is part of casting the spell, and the spell pouch has infinite costless components.
    Whelp, that would explain why it's never brought up. It strikes me as incredibly stupid though. I'm not sure how anyone can reach down into a belt pouch and snatch out, specifically, a ball of sulfur/dung in among a dense clutter of rose petals, whole crickets, gem shards, loose needles, and seven varieties of dust as a free action.

    Also, at that point, why even specify required ingredients at all if the game is just going to turn around and hand-wave them into irrelevance? At the very least it means that a wizard can be "disarmed" if their hip mounted random junk collection is confiscated I guess.
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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    Presumably the caster would keep the material components for his Chain Lightning spell in a neat little bundle, ready to be pulled out and used. I can't think of a reason to leave them all loose.

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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    First of, whilst 3.X D&D introduced the Spell Component Pouch to make things a lot simpler, I have never seen this not enforced.
    Admittedly for as long as I have played it is usually only comes up in exceptional circumstances.

    Interestingly there is a big exception to this, and this is for the costly spell components, particularly for healing and related spells. There we usually just knock off the value thereof assuming that enough had been pre-purchased by the party to meet the current needs.
    A lot of this relates to how crippling it can be for a party not to have the healing compared to not having the blasting.

    Looking back to 1st Ed there is always the module A4 - In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords.
    This module was a tournament module that started the characters with loincloths and very little else. There were a few spells the clerics had and none for the wizards.
    In the adventure one can find a few scrolls which could be learnt to memory instead of cast, but then where are the spell components?
    The adventure also specifically pointed out which items one found were technically spell components for available spells (such as the fire beetle legs and some sulfur or phosphorus iirc).

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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Whyrocknodie View Post
    Presumably the caster would keep the material components for his Chain Lightning spell in a neat little bundle, ready to be pulled out and used. I can't think of a reason to leave them all loose.
    One could even argue that this is part of the daily preparation. :P

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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    An extension of this is that spell component pouches, spell foci, holy symbols, etc can be sundered, hit with Shatter or Mage Hand, pickpocketed, and so on, which rarely seems to come up. Furthermore, wouldn't water (even heavy rain) be problem for a lot of components? Are spell component pouches waterproof? Does that stop you Create Water-ing inside one (you can't Create Water inside creatures, but since when is a pouch a creature?)

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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    It might be worth while to test a house rule of treating one's spell component utility belt like a quiver of arrows.

    Before setting out from civilization, a caster needs to note down how many "charges" of spell component they have access to. In that way, a caster is limited in the total number of big ticket spells they can cast on a given outing, which prevents the hell out of 5 minute adventuring days, and encourages greater rationing of magic power.
    Last edited by DoomHat; 2015-10-19 at 07:13 AM.
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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    The only time my DM ever cared about material components (to my recollection) was to cast the Identify spell. We bickered about it for days. But in the case of 5e, casters can rest easy knowing that MOST spells with pricy M components only need to be payed once.

    On some characters, I make a big deal over V and S components as well... It's an easy excuse for a character to make catch phrases
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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    This has been brought up before in one of the DnD subforums (probably 3.5e).

    A poster recalled that it only increased bookkeeping, and made casters annoying to play without actually helping anything.

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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    With most of the other posters here, I've seen it enforced in games, but only insofar as having a pouch is required and it by default has all the components one needs (as long as they have no explicit cost.)
    I have had some debate about spells that list something like holy water as a material cost. The spell itself doesn't state a GP cost for the holy water, but holy water is an item with a cost. Not sure if you pay that, have to have it in your inventory and use it up, or what.
    For pricey components and foci, in our games we would buy them and track how much we had of what (i.e, not just subtract the GP cost), so we would generally have a lot of diamond dust and whatever a caster in particular used.

    The pouch does put a wizard up to risk of sundering, and I think both somatic and material components are hard to get when grappled (but I could be misremembering the rules.) So it can come up.

    For sundering/pickpocketing, most optimized/paranoid wizards I've seen would carry multiple pouches, and possibly even carry a dummy pouch (and spellbook) obviously on their person, while their real ones are in a pocket or elsewhere easily accessible but not where a guy would first choose to sunder. So even if you could Create Water in one pouch, that wouldn't necessarily render a prepared wizard componentless (assuming Create Water would do that in the first place.) Note that, at least at low level and before Bags of Holding, pouches can weigh a relevant amount for a wizard who has dumped Strength, if your GM also enforces encumbrance and carrying capacity.

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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    I can see it being enforced in survival scenarios, where all resources are ment to be scarce. Otherwise it doesn't add that much and from some point it only bogs down the game without impading the casters in any way. Backup component pouches and foci can be bought for an insignificant part of WBL, so a fairly prepared player would not be found without ways to cast spells.

    There is also a problem of casters becoming all or nothing classes, which is not a good thing. The spells are still overpowered, but the caster will simply become stingy with them and do nothing instead.

    Instead one should either depower the spells themselves (an almost impossible task, since there are so many of them), or make casting more difficult or risky. This was IMO fairly well made in AD&D with the action sequence: all actions took some time in a turn (so you didn't do your actions at your initiative tick, but a few ticks later depending on the task). In particular casting a spell took longer for higher level spells (1st level spell was cast in one tick, 9th level spell in nine). At the same time hiting the caster automaticaly canceled the casting (no Concentration checks as in 3.5e, which become way too easy too quickly). This means you didn't need to waste your turn to ready an action to maybe disrupt casting - you could decide on the spot after the caster starts chanting and waving hands and as long as you hit, the spell was disrupted and lost. Caster were still immensly powerful, but they were at the same time vulnerable, which made warrior type characters relevant and able to confront casters directly.
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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    Back in 2e, there was actually a table listing individual prices for individual components. Need a bit of wax and an eye lash? That'll be X copper pieces.

    I've done the bookkeeping before, and it's... as fun as any other bookkeeping. 3.x spell component pouch and Eschew Materials, please.

    Suppose your fighter creates a grip for his sword. Really, how many swings is the wrap on the hilt of the fighter's sword really good for? How much does that wrap degrade when it gets wet, or soaked in blood --> how many "charges" does the wrap lose for these conditions? Has anyone in D&D ever had to buy new shoe/boot laces, because theirs wore out? Do you really want this level of realistic bookkeeping?

    Now, other than just for flavor and historic precedent (and for allowing people to cheat (yeah, I know I have 0 ranks in spellcraft, but what does the wizard have in his hands? A glass rod, and what? Uh-oh!)), having individual components listed can be fun when the wizard has a reason to need components. If captured, trying to recover components and seeing which spells you can manage to pull off with what you can find could, I imagine, be fun.

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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    Quote Originally Posted by DoomHat View Post
    Also, at that point, why even specify required ingredients at all if the game is just going to turn around and hand-wave them into irrelevance? At the very least it means that a wizard can be "disarmed" if their hip mounted random junk collection is confiscated I guess.
    That's the idea, I'd assume. Also no spellcasting when grapped, or similar.
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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    In my games I make the spell components part of the ritual to prepare the spell not to cast.

    This way it is necessary to carry around a bag of bat **** when casting fireball.

    Just dump it in the pentagram while preparing the said spell.

    It gives the spell preparation a more occult feel and make spell components useful.

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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    I've considered making a game system for a novel setting I have in development, set a few generations after the novel and in a different region, where magic is based entirely on material components and focuses, to the point that spell component pouches would be considered useless. If a mage expects to use magic he will lug around at least a backpack filled with crystals, different animal bones, dried herbs, wands of various woods, chalk, incense, coal, and so on, and the stereotypical wizard is not a scholar, but 'wandering magician with a cart', and good magicians are merchants as well.

    But this is less enforcing components for balance, and more building a system around the assumption of material components being important. With infinite components a magician has no limiting factor.
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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    I handle it like I suspect most DMs do: as long as the spellcaster owns a component pouch, we assume he has all the components he needs that don't have a listed cost. Components that do have a material cost (such as the gems for animate dead), have to be purchased individually.

    In practice, this has resulted in my party's Dread Necromancer always needing to buy more gems, which is a trivial expense relative to how much wealth he has. It does result in savvy shopkeepers figuring out just what kind of caster he is, but otherwise it really doesn't amount to much of a change. Just a little bit of resource management.
    Last edited by Velaryon; 2015-10-19 at 10:22 AM.

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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    It's worth noting that the humble Sleight Of Hand skill's pickpocket function can be used by a rogue to severely dampen a spellcaster's repertoire. That DC 20 ensures successful theft; it doesn't have to go unnoticed to inconvenience the mage considerably.

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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    Not explicitly, but at our table, if your spell component pouch is stolen/destroyed you can't cast material spells it until it is replaced. We also assume during downtime a caster will replenish components by buying or finding them. Bat guano for a fireball is pretty easy to come by in a dungeon, and any port town is going to have a glut of octopus and squid for a black tentacles spell.

    Of course, costed components are enforced.
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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    Paying attention to the material components of every spell is a pretty terrible way of giving magic a drawback. Making something annoying to use is not going to offset its power. Material spell components make sense if they're actually valuable, difficult to get an used to perform large-scale acts of magic.
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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    The basic-do you have your material component pouch on you? Level we always do.

    Have done the harder -well how much sulfur do you have on you and you use .5 Oz each casting type.

    (Edit: note the later was also only tested by me in 2e and 3.5e so 4e and 5e may see your mileage vary)

    I recommend the later in only two situations:

    One: advanced groups that are already logistics heavy and like it that way. Some people get their jollies from overcoming the logistics and view food rations, porter numbers etc as immersive. The tracking of spell components fits right into this and often plays well.

    Two: Low magic settings. If the society doesn't like or rarely sees magic there will less support for it infrastructure wise. Wizards just are not common enough to provide a market that incentivises stocking spell components let alone trading them from production centres out into the boonies. Thus by forcing the wizard to play out finding bats, custom ordering silver needles, etc he gets the sense of how unwelcome or special his magic is. It also helps because the less magic there is in the world the more advantage a magic user has because magic counter measures and even magic knowledge is rare. This also tends to get wizards to focus on using their magic more sparingly which fits the low magic theme. Also if spell components are not widely traded or if there are strong local views about certain kinds of magic then sometimes certain spells become hard to cast because nobody in a region stocks the material components. If a nation associates fire with evil (esp magical fire) then the coments of known fire spells may be banned. Which leads into why even wizards that don't buy into the fire=evil thing from that area still prefer to use lightning bolt over fireball. In the game of this I ran and two played needing a small town or larger for common components seemed to work and needing small city or above for exotic (not necessarily intrinically expensive just not locally producable) components worked well.
    Last edited by sktarq; 2015-10-19 at 12:03 PM.

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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    Edited the original post to narrow the focus of the discussion...

    EDIT: Keep in mind my primary concern/idea here is finding a simple way to limit the number of stronger spells a caster can use per journey out of civilization. I've learned from most of the replies here, it's simply way too much of a nuance to keep track of how many individual newt eyes and frog toes a mage has, but what if M components were boiled down to a single form of scarce resource?

    No matter how rich a mage is, the most they'll ever likely to be able to buy in a given town is 1d6+4 charges of vague brand spell sauce. Costs for charges of all-purpose spell sauce can be hand-waved, while individual charges for specifically gp priced spells have to be taken out of the party bank account. Basically this would just give casters an easy to manage secondary resource track. Their spell slots have a daily cool down, but they need to refresh their 'mana' by either returning to town, or finding some intermittently in loot along the way.
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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    Lurker here.

    I, as a GM, enforce components in only one game system (Renaissance.) The system is very specific when it comes to components, and gathering them is an important part of playing a witch/magician. My players are always on the lookout for fireflies, toad poo, bits of fleece, needles, and that sort of thing. All in all, the fetching of ingredients makes quite a bit of fun, and rather necessarily limited the use of magic (which is highly potent in Renaissance.)

    Edit: Its also worth noting that Renaissance is a system that discourages wanton engagement in combat. If you fail to plan for a fight, there's a good chance that someone in the party will be seriously hurt/killed.
    Last edited by Palegreenpants; 2015-10-19 at 12:04 PM.
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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    IMO your argument is void, since something that has no cost goes by unmentioned. Just like you don't say "I go poop, shave and take a long shower" once you reach an inn after traveling, it's the same thing. Also, everyone is talking about materials and component pouches. No one seems to remember that casters can use foci. For example, a wizard can forget about his component pouch and just rely on his staff since,

    Quote Originally Posted by DnD 5e PHB p.203
    A character can use a component pouch or a spellcasting focus (found in chapter 5) in place of the components specified for a spell.
    If he decides to use a component pouch, it is more realistic that a wizard's component pouch may run out at some time, and what you could do is every X sessions he's gonna have to spend 10gp to buy a new one. That's what I used to rule as DM both for this as well as for quivers. On the other hand, Thieves Tools has a set amount of uses, and whenever a pick lock attempt failed by 10 the pick would break.
    Anyway, do you think that micromanaging resources is what makes DnD fun? Using a much broader measure would be better. "You've been in the wilderness searching for the goblin HQ about a month now. You're getting low on resources and are not sure how many more of those pesky ambushes you can fall in before having to return to the town." , would be more than enough in order to spur your players and give them a sense of urgency. "10 arrows left in your quiver" would probably lead to some annoying conversations about whether or not the archer can reclaim used arrows, or try to create new arrows, right there in the middle of a forest, because, wood is all around us dammit.

    As for digging through loose material, do you really think someone who dedicated the better part of his life in studying a subject would be a slob when it came to it? As Whyrocknodie said he'd probably prepare every component bundle during the daily preparation.

    However, of course, if for some reason the component pouch/arcane focus is lost/taken, then the caster might have to get to work. If he's in a prison for example, he might want to actually collect guano from the pesky bats at the corner of his cell, and some sulfur from a torch or from the courtyard where it is used as pest repellent. Then he can blast that unsuspecting guard away. Using the concern of materials for a session or two would probably be very fun, but using it as a daily concern to "balance" casters, would most definitely either lead to forgetting about the rule, or some serious arguments for nothing.

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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawkstar View Post
    Explicitly per the rules, procuring material components is part of casting the spell, and the spell pouch has infinite costless components.
    Only if you're playing one of the later games. I saw them enforced a lot more under 2e and 1e rules, which didn't include spell component pouches as a generic thing... you might have a pouch into which you put spell components, but the spell component pouch of 3.x and later? That would've been a minor magical item in earlier games. Games which had less problem with balance between casters and non-casters, because there were more restrictions on casters.
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    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    Quote Originally Posted by DoomHat View Post
    EDIT: Keep in mind my primary concern/idea here is finding a simple way to limit the number of big time spells a caster can use per journey out of civilization. It seems from most of the replies here, it's simply way too much of a nuance to keep track of how many individual newt eyes and frog toes a mage has, but what if M components were boiled down to a single form of scarce resource?

    No matter how rich a mage is, the most they'll ever likely to be able to buy in a given town is 1d6+4 charges of vague brand spell sauce. Costs for charges of all-purpose spell sauce can be hand-waved, while individual charges for specifically gp priced spells have to be taken out of the party bank account. Basically this would just give casters an easy to manage secondary resource track. Their spell slots have a daily cool down, but they need to refresh their 'mana' by either returning to town, or finding some intermittently in loot along the way.
    My first reaction to this was unpleasant, but then I thought about Dune.
    He who controls the spell sauce controls the universe.
    My latest homebrew: Majokko base class and Spellcaster Dilettante feats for D&D 3.5 and Races as Classes for PTU.

    Currently Playing
    Raiatari Eikibe - Ghostfoot's RHOD Righteous Resistance

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Default Re: Have you ever seen Material Spell Components enforced?

    Quote Originally Posted by DoomHat View Post
    Also, at that point, why even specify required ingredients at all if the game is just going to turn around and hand-wave them into irrelevance?
    Because Gygax and friends had a punny sense of humor.

    No, that's the actual reason. You are fretting over a bunch of bad jokes the creators injected into the system on a lark. Is it any wonder that they've been sidelined or flat-out abandoned in later editions?

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