12
\$\begingroup\$

In the AD&D Player's Handbook, many of the spells require spell components. However, there are no rules associated with spell components. So I'm guessing it's safe to assume that this is one of the do it yourself aspects of the game. I'm wondering if anyone has a system or at least a set of guidelines regarding spell components that covers costs or actually gathering the components.

Example: the material component for Tenser's Floating Disk (p. 68 of the PHB) is a drop of mercury. However, no rules are given on how to obtain mercury. This would seem to be an uncommon substance that should require some effort on part of the spell caster to obtain.

Basically, I am looking for a way to handle spell components without resulting in a spell component pouch (such as in D&D 3.5).

\$\endgroup\$
18
\$\begingroup\$

You either handwave them away or you require them to be gathered on the wizard's initiative and you roleplay it out.

Lots of groups opt for the former. It means you don't have to track every live spider or think about how they're stored and carried. The disadvantage is that you lose a huge aspect of the original power balance between wizards and other classes, who can just toss off fireballs easily without ever watching their bat-guano ammo.

The advantage of playing it out is that it can lead to very interesting adventures. Where does a wizard get quicksilver for the Floating Disc? Maybe they have to visit the Big City every once in a while to stock up at the purveyors of such oddities and curios (and where do they get it?), but if they're not so lucky perhaps they have to cut a deal with a pixie clan who gathers it from rare blossoms during the yearly blue moon.

Both work just fine. Anything in between though, and you get the worst of both worlds: trying to create a clever minigame or subsystem for gathering, you end up having to track it all, but it's not a real limit in their power, and you just end up with some dry dice rolling and busywork. Either make it a central concern of wizards, or dismiss it as something that's handled off-screen.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "Either make it a central concern of wizards, or dismiss it as something that's handled off-screen." -- And of course, you can do this on a spell by spell basis. \$\endgroup\$ – starwed Feb 27 '13 at 3:08
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @starwed True. Handwaving the 100gp diamond that a certain spell needs isn't recommended! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 27 '13 at 4:38
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @starwed You could even do both for a single spell: If the wizard discovers a bat-cave in an area with a lot of hot springs and binds a minor demon to teleport stuff back and forth, by all means, let him have his infinite fireballs. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Feb 27 '13 at 6:01
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ FYI, during medieval or even ancient times, mercury was more commonly available than it is in modern times. Though a rare metal, it saw extensive use in metallurgy, medicine, and even millinery. \$\endgroup\$ – Erics Oct 24 at 7:02
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Erics and in cleaning hats, that's where Mad Hatter comes from. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Oct 24 at 11:07
5
\$\begingroup\$

Dragon Magazine Issue 81 had an article called, "Living in a Material World" that dealt with the issue of costs and where to find spell components. It looks like it's available at the Internet Archive with a direct link to Issue 81

\$\endgroup\$
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This post could be improved with a review of what the article offers, so that those who can’t access the link can tell if it’s worth tracking down the issue. (Sadly that does not appear to be an officially-endorsed archive, meaning some well-meaning but unauthorised random person uploaded it, and that link is one Hasbro lawyer’s C&D away from no longer working. An overview will make this answer stay useful when that happens.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 24 at 14:36
5
\$\begingroup\$

When it comes to vague rules like spell components (and many other rules in the older D&D systems), as I see it you really have 3 main choices: ignore them, let them complicate your life, or make them a tool for the GM. @SevenSidedDie's answer and the comments on it indicated 2 common uses that GM's make: keying adventures and power regulation. And if you're going to incorporate them and use the mechanics to manipulate the story, you need to make sure you're clear, at least in your own head, on the extent to which you employ them. You'll need to be ready for any overhead their use will add to the play and if you're not consistent you'll make your mages feel like you're randomly hamstringing them.

As was also mentioned, they seem to have originally been intended as an opportunity to inject lame jokes and bad puns into the rules text. In that spirit I usually hand wave the details of collection and storage, but still use the details for color commentary. "The orc hits you in the middle of casting your Color Spray, and the spell is disrupted as the air is filled with a shower of multicolored sand."

And even if you're not focusing on the mechanics of these items in regular play, you can still leverage them as plot devices as long as your players are aware that they're in use. For instance, many of the higher level spells use large gems as a non-volatile component, which means there are people out there who know that high level mages are almost guaranteed to carry expensive gems...

\$\endgroup\$
0
\$\begingroup\$

We use to require spell material components in our campaigns in the 80s. It made an interesting sub-quest for the party to get the materials to keep their MUs happy and productive, and put some cost to invoking more extravagant spells.

However, we didn't insist that the material components where consumed when the spell was cast. Perhaps a saving throw to keep them? That sort of thing. Now I would print out vouchers for components.

Clerics were laughing though.

\$\endgroup\$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.