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I have started a new campaign and am considering making life a little easier for my spell casters by not expecting them to source and find all their components ahead of time, especially where components are destroyed, but instead being willing to allow them to operate a tax system. If a spell requires a 1000GP gem bowl just have them remove 1000GP from the inventory instead of making them find and buy the bowl. One of the main reasons for this is that the new party has a druid, cleric and paladin so there are a lot of spells potentially for them to go and source components for, and as they are all new players I want to try and streamline things a bit.

Am I at risk of unbalancing magic for my campaign at higher character levels if I do this making it far to easy to cast some spells that are made hard by rare components? I am looking for examples from DM's or players who have experience of this system and where it did or didn't work. Input from DM's of other systems that have a similar approach to magic and have applied a system like that I am thinking of or older editions of DnD also accepted.

I generally run a fairly loose campaign in terms of book keeping, I expect players to track ammunition like arrows but also assume that players who throw knives automatically collect them again afterwards and give a little leeway for the sake of a couple of arrows in a battle but will then say you need to stock up later. I also usually give a bow wielding Player a magic quiver by about level 3 which doesn’t need attuning and auto refills with 20 arrows after every long rest. This usually makes life easier.

I don’t track rations or food preferring to assume that the players can live off the land and fend for themselves normally. If they were trekking through a desert or in the under dark for more then a week I might make food gathering a little harder or make them track there water usage.

I like to give my players a bag of holding relatively early on in campaigns so the management of what they are all carrying is less important. But I have in the past been more rigorous with spell components asking players to track and maintain them as they have gone.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You might get an answer by asking about balance implications \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have amended the question to hopefully be answerable now. \$\endgroup\$
    – Richard C
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 13:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ Question made more specific to ask for concrete examples from players or DM's with experience of this kind of approach rather then opinions as to the pros or cons. \$\endgroup\$
    – Richard C
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 13:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Additional points added \$\endgroup\$
    – Richard C
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 20:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is "balance" really what you're concerned about? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Commented Sep 23, 2020 at 20:54

2 Answers 2

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Your changes don't unbalance anything, but...

I think that simplifying finding components is a good idea. In my own games spellcasters still need to buy their components ahead of time, but it's usually very easy. I find that it's not a good idea to introduce conflict without a reason for it - if my players want to buy a new sword, there's always a smith in the village. I've never tried to change the component rules, but I've DM'd a lot of campaigns with casters in them, and I also tend to be a stickler for tracking ammo, weight, food, etc. Your proposed change doesn't unbalance anything, but you lose out on two following points:

  1. Significance of rare components: Some spells, like Plane Shift require components that you might want the players to go out of their way to find, not just for making the spell hard to cast but because it gives the spell a significance and narrative weight. Plane shift requires a "forked, metal rod worth at least 250 gp, attuned to a particular plane of existence." Some of the difficulty in casting this spell is finding a properly attuned rod, and the potential adventure that accompanies it.

  2. Preparation for adventure: Resurrection spells all require diamonds of certain values to cast. When preparing for a harrowing adventure, needing to consider how many diamonds to buy is an important aspect of the gameplay - "how many resurrections do we need?" Being able to spend on the fly doesn't unbalance the spell, but you lose out on that aspect of the game. I only mention this because it happened recently in a game of mine; an NPC with potentially valuable information was killed in front of the party, but they only had 3 diamonds to cast resurrection and couldn't get any more for a while. This gave us a fun and interesting moment of "is it worth it? What if we need that later?"

Managing resources like food, ammunition, and spell components is an aspect of the game that some people like and some people don't like; it's often good to tweak them based on situation, like you mentioned with players foraging for food in regular environments. Making this easier for players is a very good idea, so you might think about making it so that only certain spells require actually going out to buy the requisite component and defining those at the start of the campaign.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Great answer! I completely agree with you. I think moreover that allowing players using GPs instead of expensive components makes their game more easy. E.g., finding the 1000 GPs for the Resurrection spell after defeating a big boss in a dungeon looks easier to me than planning ahead of bringing 1 or more diamonds. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eddymage
    Commented Sep 25, 2020 at 19:59
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If you and your players are good with it, then it's fine

My tables that I've both DM'd and played at have taken the spell casting components and foci requirements pretty loosely without issue.

We've generally felt that casters should cast and really pay the most attention to hands free. Although for some classes, like paladin, we've allowed for tattoo holy symbols which bypassed some of those issues.

Overall, do what works and what makes fun at your table. but I can say that at ours, we haven't had issues with components or foci in getting in the way of our fun.

If it really matters for something, just make it clear to the players.

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