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I was reading through the basic rules and noticed that the only time spell components were explicitly stated as being consumed was when they had a gp value attached to them. For example:

Arcane Lock
Components: V, S, M (gold dust worth at least 25 gp, which the spell consumes)

versus

Arcane Eye
Components: V, S, M (a bit of bat fur)


Does this mean that cheap spell components are not consumed when a spell is cast?

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The components are only consumed when specified.

Player's Handbook p. 203 (or here in the basic rules):

Casting some spells requires particular objects, specified in parentheses in the component entry. A character can use a component pouch or a spellcasting focus in place of the components specified for a spell. But if a cost is indicated for a component, a character must have that specific component before he or she can cast the spell.

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.

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    \$\begingroup\$ That's not at all clear, which is why the question was asked. It looks like they mean "a gp cost" when they say "a cost". As it's written, just listing some bat fur looks to me like a cost is indicated. \$\endgroup\$ – DCShannon May 10 '17 at 19:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ For the purposes of this question, it doesn't matter whether there's a monetary cost to the material components. Per the Sage Advice: media.wizards.com/2017/dnd/downloads/SA-Compendium.pdf \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 23 '18 at 22:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ "A spell doesn’t consume its material components unless its description says it does. For example, the pearl required by the identify spell isn’t consumed, whereas the diamond required by raise dead is used up when you cast the spell." \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 23 '18 at 22:58
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It’s not just cheap components that are reusable. For example, the identify spell does not state that the 100 gp pearl is consumed:

Identify
Components: V, S, M (a pearl worth at least 100 gp and an owl feather)

Based on that spell, along with Colin D’s answer, components are only consumed if it’s explicitly stated.

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It functionally doesn't matter. You only track material components when they indicate that they have a cost. If they have a cost and they are consumed, it is indicated in the spell description. If they do not have a cost, and it doesn't say they are consumed, they do not seem to be consumed (though this makes very little sense when you think about it). It may be better to leave this up to the player's imagination whether or not they are consumed (again, because it really doesn't matter when you have access to a component pouch).

The important part here is that M spells without a cost are indicating a free hand is required to cast (M and S spells can use the same hand, but both require a free hand). The descriptions of these items are almost entirely for both historical and flavor purposes. They are considered to be present in your spell pouch in sufficient quantities that you have no trouble casting the spells when you want to.

Whether or not they can be recovered or are used up is left entirely up to you in these cases.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In some cases it matters. For example, Chromatic Orb requires a diamond worth 50gp or more, which is far above the cost of a component pouch and can't be expected to come with it. For this reason, our sorcerer was very excited that Venomfang's treasure hoard included such diamonds in our LMoP campaign! I made a temporary ruling that a well-cut diamond's facets are needed to refract threads of the Weave and won't be consumed, but it's good to know RAW+RAI supports it. \$\endgroup\$ – AndrewK Jan 4 '16 at 2:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AndrewK That's not a counter example. Chromatic orb has a cost, so it's not one of the ones where Wax Eagle is saying that it doesn't matter. Since it has a cost, it's explicitly not in the pouch. Things that don't have a cost are free to pull out of the pouch, so it doesn't matter whether you consume it. You can just pull another one out for free. \$\endgroup\$ – DCShannon May 10 '17 at 19:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you think that this doesn't make sense, try the pearl/goldfish combo in AD&D 1e's version of identify \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jul 6 '18 at 12:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ A case where cheap material components can matter: a caster is captured, stripped of useful belongings including component pouch and focus, and tossed in a locked cell. It might be worth searching that little pile of junk in the corner or examining the weeds near the narrow window, since some components are rather simple and common. (If an Illusionist manages to find a little scrap of fleece, that opens up lots of possibilities.) \$\endgroup\$ – aschepler Feb 15 at 5:01
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No. Per the Sage Advice (also reiterated in the latest Sage Advice Compendium):

Does a spell consume its material components?

A spell doesn’t consume its material components unless its description says it does. For example, the pearl required by the identify spell isn’t consumed, whereas the diamond required by raise dead is used up when you cast the spell.

This is true of both mundane components (which a spellcasting focus/holy symbol/component pouch can substitute for, depending on class) and for those with a gold cost. Only those with a gold cost generally are stated as being consumed by the spell.

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This is straight from page 203 of the Player's Handbook for Fifth Edition.

Casting some spells requires particular objects, specified in parentheses in the component entry. A character can use a component pouch or a spellcasting focus in place of the components specified for a spell. But if a cost is indicated for a component, a character must have that specific component before he or she can cast the spell.
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.
A spellcaster must have a hand free to access these components, but it can be the same hand that he or she uses to perform somatic components.

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    \$\begingroup\$ -1 as this provides no additional information that hasn't already be quoted. \$\endgroup\$ – Purple Monkey Mar 27 '15 at 8:06

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