[d20a] Spell Components

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[d20a] Spell Components

Postby Ashtagon » Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:29 am

tbh, I think the entire spell component system is flawed.

Spells that require expensive material components are unchanged. the same applies to spells that require inexpensive, but very rare/hard-to-obtain components (ie. a component the PCs are expected to quest for to obtain).

My favourite fix for components is to replace them with a wand, staff, or rod. This can be any wand, staff, or rod, not necessarily a magical one. It takes an hour of meditation to attune yourself to a wand, and you can only be attuned to a single wand at a time (the newly attuned wand replaces any previous attunement). This wand serves as a material focus, replacing the need for any material component. Since it is a focus and not a component, it is not consumed in the casting. It is only needed for spells that are listed as having a material component of no significant monetary value or rarity.

Divine casters can replace the material components attuned wand/staff/rod with their holy symbol instead.

In terms of metagame analysis, this prevents material component spells if the caster is stripped of his gear just as surely as losing a spell pouch would. It also doesn't involve any improbable amount of carrying components, nor does it reduce mighty wizards to petty scavengers hunting for bat poo. It also adds to wizardly flavour in a good way. Under this variant, the Eschew Materials feat removes the need for such a wand, just as it would normally remove the need for petty material components..
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Re: [d20a] Spell Components

Postby night_druid » Wed Feb 18, 2009 1:11 am

I think material components, and some other limiters such as aging the caster, were an often-missed game balance mechanism, especially at high level. A mage could have access to powerful spells, but these limitations prevented him from using them at every encounter.

That said, I see no problem with mages using staffs, wands, or the like for spellcasting. It fits the classic image of the wizard and doesn't really affect the mechanics much. I'm not sure anyone really enforces the material components rules; its too much a hassle for all but the most mendacious gamer.
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Re: [d20a] Spell Components

Postby Big Mac » Fri Feb 20, 2009 2:19 pm

Hmm. So you want to replace all M components with the F component (or the DF component)?

Like Night Druid, I thought the expensive (or hard to get) components were there to stop certain spells being used "all the time".

I suppose another alternative, would be to replace some material components with a ritual that involves one or more assistants (or one or more worshipers). Something like that would actually suck the entire group together and turn them into the focus of some of the uber-spells.
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Re: [d20a] Spell Components

Postby RobJN » Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:08 pm

By eliminating the overall "need" for spell components, you could turn their use into an expensive-or-very-rare tool for temporarily boosting the power of a specific spell, or family of spells.

Swapping out the M component for the wand/staff/rod seems like a good idea-- certainly adds the more "traditional" flavor to wizards. However, then you run into the Harry Potter problem of "Expelliarmus! Oops, can't use magic without my wand!" :?

And... I don't want to think about where a wizard would stash his wand under the threat of imprisonment and the loss of equipment.... :shock: :oops:
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Re: [d20a] Spell Components

Postby night_druid » Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:17 pm

No reason you couldn't use both. Most of the time, a wizard would use his wand/staff/rod/focus item. However, if for some reason that becomes unavailable, he could use scrounge up standard material components for spell casting. Using material components could be a "backup", possibly viewed as a "throwback" to earlier days of spellcasting, while focus items are viewed as more modern & refined. Kinda like episodes of Star Trek where Kirk loes his phaser on some planet, so he rigs a blackpowder gun. :ugeek:
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Re: [d20a] Spell Components

Postby Ashtagon » Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:33 pm

clarifications..

Spells with no material components under RAW are not affected.

Spells with material components of significant value under RAW (more than 1 gp value; those that would not benefit from Eschew Materials feat under RAW) are not affected by this rule change.

Spells with materials components of low value under RAW (under 1 gp; those that would benefit from the Eschew materials feat under RAW) change the material component requirement to an arcane focus requirement.

The Eschew Materials feat is replaced by the Eschew Arcane Focus feat. This feat allows the caster to cast spells that would normally require an arcane focus, without necessarily being in possession of their arcane focus.

The above is the core concept in a nutshell.

Specific commentary on questions and issues raised...

I think material components, and some other limiters such as aging the caster, were an often-missed game balance mechanism, especially at high level. A mage could have access to powerful spells, but these limitations prevented him from using them at every encounter.


3E removed the ageing effect of some spells, but not the material components. Unfortunately, because the material component rules are, frankly, fiddly and book-keepy, no one uses them. This system is desigend to remove the book-keeping from material components, but maintain the balance restriction they provide.

Like Night Druid, I thought the expensive (or hard to get) components were there to stop certain spells being used "all the time".


Spells with expensive material components are not affected by this rule. Spells whose components are arbitrarily hard to get (material component: the tail feather of an ostrich that was killed by drowning while on the ethereal plane) are also not affected

I suppose another alternative, would be to replace some material components with a ritual that involves one or more assistants (or one or more worshipers). Something like that would actually suck the entire group together and turn them into the focus of some of the uber-spells.


By eliminating the overall "need" for spell components, you could turn their use into an expensive-or-very-rare tool for temporarily boosting the power of a specific spell, or family of spells.


This is what WFRP 2E does. The worshippers aspect is something I really want to find a good way to implement, since it fits so well into my idea of what priestly magic should be - a community-inspired affair. The downside is that it threatens to require the party to be all-priests to do the cool spells, or to have cooperative magic be something that only happens in towns and temples.

Having material components as an optional item that boosts the spell in some way is a good idea too. It was first shown in D&D in Book of Vile Darkness, and WFRP 2E uses it extensively. I am a little concerned that it would bring back the book-keeping I wanted to remove.

Swapping out the M component for the wand/staff/rod seems like a good idea-- certainly adds the more "traditional" flavor to wizards. However, then you run into the Harry Potter problem of "Expelliarmus! Oops, can't use magic without my wand!"


In terms of being able to cast your spell at all, this is exactly the way it should work with material components anyway, under RAW (just substitute spell component pouch for wand in your sentence above). My system is a little more generous, in that any appropriate object (default rules say wand or staff, but rods (treat as a mace) or orbs (shot put?) could also be used. The only real requirement for an arcane focus is that it be mastercraft quality, and the caster spend an hour tuning himself to the arcane focus object.

No reason you couldn't use both. Most of the time, a wizard would use his wand/staff/rod/focus item. However, if for some reason that becomes unavailable, he could use scrounge up standard material components for spell casting. Using material components could be a "backup", possibly viewed as a "throwback" to earlier days of spellcasting, while focus items are viewed as more modern & refined. Kinda like episodes of Star Trek where Kirk loes his phaser on some planet, so he rigs a blackpowder gun


Interesting idea, but not really the way I want magic to work. perhaps keep it in anyway as an optional rule. "modern" wizards might not necessarily be aware that this can be done.
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Re: [d20a] Spell Components

Postby Big Mac » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:15 pm

night_druid wrote:No reason you couldn't use both. Most of the time, a wizard would use his wand/staff/rod/focus item. However, if for some reason that becomes unavailable, he could use scrounge up standard material components for spell casting. Using material components could be a "backup", possibly viewed as a "throwback" to earlier days of spellcasting, while focus items are viewed as more modern & refined. Kinda like episodes of Star Trek where Kirk loes his phaser on some planet, so he rigs a blackpowder gun. :ugeek:


I believe that someone came up with a system, where you could use special material components to boost a spell (instead of using a metamagic feat).

So if you used any sort of non-magical wand for a "focus", you could probably throw in various magical wands and absorb one of their charges to add in a metamagic feat.
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Re: [d20a] Spell Components

Postby Cthulhudrew » Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:33 pm

Big Mac wrote:I believe that someone came up with a system, where you could use special material components to boost a spell (instead of using a metamagic feat).


Metamagic Components from Unearthed Arcana.
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Re: [d20a] Spell Components

Postby Big Mac » Mon Feb 23, 2009 12:35 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:
Big Mac wrote:I believe that someone came up with a system, where you could use special material components to boost a spell (instead of using a metamagic feat).


Metamagic Components from Unearthed Arcana.


Thanks! :D
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Re: [d20a] Spell Components

Postby Gecko » Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:56 pm

I've had so few games get to a high enough level in 3e for this to be an issue, but here's how I would probably handle it-

I use a number of house rules already when it comes to spellcasting.

I already use an xp buffer rule, so all spells have some temporary xp drain, I might have an option to swap a material component for some permanent xp drain.

I already use a lengthened spellcasting rule, so perhaps If the caster has the material component they can either overcome the lengthened spellcasting OR get to roll all variable effects twice (taking the better result) and/or something like giving a +1 or +2 to overcome SR or in dispel checks and the like.

Perhaps for some of the components give a caster level check to see if the components are used up or not with each casting?

I just downloaded some stuff from the OGL wiki about using and attuning gems for enhanced spellcasting, but it's rather specialised.

The few time's I've played a spellcaster in 3e I've always taken the eschew materials feat, and as a DM so few of my games have reached the higher level's that I've never really had it come up. The modifications you proposed seem perfectly fine if you want the harry potter wand use style of magic (and in Mystara I think there's even some precedence for this being the Alphatian style of magic IIRC).
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